Empower local construction firms

Empower local construction firms

WE note with deep concern the howls of protest from local construction firms after the government awarded a M900 million contract to a Chinese company to build the Marakabei-Monontša Road.
The Consortium of Lesotho Contractors (CLC) now wants the Minister of Public Works, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, to explain why the contract was given to China Geo without going to tender.

They argue the awarding of the contract to China Geo without following laid down procurement regulations is in breach of Lesotho’s laws.
The awarding of the tender also denied Basotho an opportunity to benefit from the multi-million maloti project.
We agree.

Lesotho’s procurement regulations were put in place to ensure there is no room for corruption.
While we will not rush to conclude there was some chicanery in the awarding of the tender, we strongly believe the procurement regulations must be followed to the letter.

The open tendering system means government projects must be advertised with every Mosotho being given a chance to compete fairly.
Only in exceptional circumstances should contracts be awarded through selective tendering.
The coalition government was swept into power on the promise that it would run a squeaky clean administration.
It must live up to its word.

It is still too early to forget how the previous administration led by Pakalitha Mosisili got entangled in a mess over some shady deals.
It had a tough time trying to explain some of the deals, chief among these was the awarding of a contract to provide a fleet of vehicles to the government.

It was a nightmare that just would not go away.
The Thomas Thabane-led administration must be careful that it does not find itself in the same quagmire.
It is on this basis that we think the government must come out clearly in explaining the reasoning behind the awarding of the contract to the Chinese company.

If there are any lessons to be learnt from the latest controversy, it is that Basotho businessmen are crying out to be heard by their own government.
They want a programme that directly empowers the locals.
Admittedly, some projects are just too big for local companies.

That is where the idea of a consortium comes in, as Basotho companies pull their resources together to take on big projects.
It would be highly unfortunate were the government to ignore their pleas for support.
Every other government is supporting its own people. Lesotho must do the same for its local contractors.

The government must aggressively support local construction companies.
This position does not mean we are aggressively promoting xenophobia. It is plain common sense.

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