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BIDP Newsletter

January, 2015

Change of guard: A fresh BIDP council for the year.

BIDP members voted for a new council during last year's AGM held at Botswanacraft on the 7th of October, 2014. The new council is headed by Tebogo Modisagape, President, from Val interiors.

The rest of the council members are:

Chiwala Maipambe, Vice

Gianni Mannis,

Tumi Mogwe, Secretary

David Young, Member

Seabo Morobolo, Member

Mildred Hwata, Member

Tshepo Selaledi, Member

Evans Moje, Member.

We wish them all a successful year at the helm of BIDP.

Delays, Disruptions and Suspensions in Construction contracts

Focusing on Government jobs in Botswana,

Delays are common to construction projects in Botswana and contractors have often been unfairly singled out as the main culprits even when the delay was the result of a much more complex problem involving a number of stakeholders. This article discusses some of the main causes of construction delays and examines possible remedies with the understanding that issues of construction delays often don’t have a simple solution.


Lack of information and inefficient communication channels are often cited
as the most important causes for delays. While it is practically
impossible to go to tender with 100% complete and accurate documents,
its even harder for the bidders to determine from the tender
documents exactly what is missing and what they need further
information on. In effect, the site becomes the experimental ground,
where many solutions will be figured out during construction. In some
cases, when the problem is discovered on site, and the contractor
requests for information, it is because the lack of information is
already impeding on progress on site. Quite often between the request
for information and the instruction from the consultant, there can be
many procedures involved, such as consultations, cost evaluations,
client approvals, drawings and specifications in order to package
accurate information for an instruction to the contractor. It is
possible that the consultant may expedite issuing the instruction to
confirm at a later time, but this puts the project at risk of
uncontrollable variations.

Supply chain

Botswana is a net importer of construction materials and this goes down to the
basic bag of cement. Our dependence on imported materials for
construction has left us with few options for sourcing materials
beyond what the corner hardware store offers. This always calls for
changes to construction methods, materials and suppliers during a
contract in an attempt to realign the designs with what is currently
available. In most cases, the change in supply is difficult to
pre-empt at tender stage. As a small country with an even smaller
manufacturing industry, we will always find our projects requiring a
little more on-site tuning, more attention, more changes and more
material decision making than in your average project in say, South
Africa. This is compounded buy contractors reluctance to source
products from a broader international base, which, in all fairness,
may also contribute to delays if the procurement is not done in a
timely fashion.


is a bureaucratic hold-up between submission of claim and payment
certificate to the government and the actual payment to the
contractor. Although all stakeholders agree that it is critical to
solve this, the time still extends to weeks and even months. As a
result of this there is an even longer period before a subcontractor
or a supplier is paid. Contractors, subcontractors and suppliers
decry delayed payments and interrupted cash flow as causes for
project delays.


lack of experience or just simply a lacklustre attitude to the job on
the part of the contractor, the consultant and even the client. Do we
really need to elaborate on this?

is unfortunate there are still a number of contractors holding
significant jobs who appear not to place any value in finishing the
job on time.

The above
four are just a few of the many issues that cause delays in
construction projects. They are presented with and inherent
understanding that each construction project is unique, has its own
complexities, and experiences its own set of problems that may be
distinct from what is outlined here. The suggested and commonly
discussed remedies are outlined below, although they cannot be said
to be ultimate solutions.

the government professional to make decisions:

On the government’s side, if the power of the client's agent is
entrusted more on middle level professionals, reducing the dependence
on the director or the permanent secretary in decision making, we
will have gone a long way in reducing the time taken for information
and instructions to reach the contractor.

Check, revise, and check again:

can revise and verify, as much as is practically possible, all the
information in the tender documents, before they are finalised. They
can confirm availability of materials and lead times by talking to
suppliers directly. But how much verifying and checking can
consultants do before they find themselves working as unpaid
logistics officers? And to compound this, the supply chain has become
so dynamic that what is available now and ready to deliver may not be
in six months time, and the six months may just be the time between
specifying and awarding a tender. This then calls for contractors to
empower themselves check what is specified, to ask for or suggest
alternatives if there are supply problems and be able to source the
alternatives wherever in the world they are.

Change the
Payment system:

tedious decision chain that payments and approvals go through in
government departments was created to prevent corrupt practices.
Unfortunately the same tedious 'checks and balances' required to
process payments on the government's side are necessary and are
accepted as standard practice. Any changes to these processes
requires a change in government policy...and maybe that is exactly
what's needed since the same system has often become a hindrance to
progress, even at the hands of the most effective public officers.

there a non-punitive cure for incompetence?

this is difficult. We understand the government as the biggest
employer is trying use this privileged position to build a skilled
and competent local pool of contractors though selectively empowering
procurement systems. This is a commendable feat and has enabled small
contractors to rise up through their PPDB grades and grow to be
respectable large contractors. In some cases however, there has been
indications that the contractors have been given a project beyond
their capacity and this sometimes has the government in the centre of
a web of direct contracts with contractors who should have been
sub-contractors to the main contractor in an attempt to rescue the
main contractor. It is a feat of project management to successfully
run this type of project, and almost impossible to finish on time.
This calls for an improved legal advisory expertise and project
management expertise on the government's side, and positively, DBES
appears to have identified this as one of their priorities.

construction boom at the CBD-Gaborone, where Government also has a

CBD hasn't been spared the brunt of delays.

other solutions can be suggested, for example, we can manage projects
effectively so that for any delays it is easy to find which party is
at fault and effect the LAD or Prolongation clauses in our contracts.
We can also increase our pool of existing construction arbitrators
for faster service in situations where prompt arbitration is
necessary for progress. We can also relieve PPADB of some of the
procurement burden to private entities-if it is justified that it
will be cost effective and protected from corrupt practices. We can
implement implement nationwide checklists and standards for
information procured from consultants and be more strict in ensuring
they are adhered to. We can do much more. We can empower contractors'
associations or consultants' professional institutes to monitor and
control the members performance and give them the legal instruments
to implement disciplinary processes where necessary. The endemic
project delays in Botswana have surely given us enough information
and motivation to effect better project controls and this is not
exclusively the government's responsibility.

B. Dikgola

[This is the author's sole personal opinion and not necessarily the opinion of BIDP. Please send your suggestions, comments about this article and your experiences in the industry]

Editor of this issue is new member Brian Dikgola, an architect working in

Botswana Institute of Development Professions