Bungling firm wins contract to fix road

Bungling firm wins contract to fix road

MASERU – THE government spent an additional M83 million to repair a rural road severely damaged just six months after construction on a budget of M162 million.
That’s according to the Auditor General’s report for the year-ended March 31, 2017, which is stinging in its assessment of the government’s financial management and procurement systems.

And when another contractor was hired to repair the damage the government gave the supervision contract to the same company that had supervised the initial construction condemned as substandard by a forensic investigation.
In 2006 the Ministry of Public Works and Transport awarded the M158 million-contract to construction Likalaneng to Thaba-Tseka road.

The Lesotho Consolidated Civil Contractors (LCCC) was the main contractor for the 27 kilometre road. Funded by BADEA, the road was designed by WSP of the UK and its construction was supervised by a joint venture led by Lesotho’s SM Consulting.

Other firms in the supervision team were BKS of South Africa and PACE of Kuwait.
The joint venture was paid under M3.9 million for supervising the project that was completed in 2010, some two and half years behind schedule.

But in January 2011, only six months after the construction, some sections of the road started crumbling.
The most severely affected area was the 2.5 km stretch near Rasephooko village which was almost completely washed away by floods. This happened within the mandatory defects liability period.

A defects liability period is a period after completion of a construction project that a contractor remains liable to deal with any apparent defects. The typical defects liability period is one year.
In 2014 the ministry hired Consulting Engineering Centre (CEC) to investigate and make recommendations on the remedial work on the road to minimize further damage.

CEC also had the mandate to provide preliminary cost estimates on the reconstruction of the 2.5 km stretch near Rasephooko.

The firm however struggled to get the necessary documents to verify some aspects of the design and construction of the road.

The Auditor General’s report says the CEC reported that it could not get the following documents:

l Design Review Report prepared by SM Consulting Engineers on the original design (designed by WSP UK).
l The As-Built drawings and the As-Built survey data.

l The Draft Final Construction Report.
l Final Completion Report.
The audit report says the Quality Assurance tests revealed that LCCC did not fully comply with designs specifications.

It says CEC discovered that the “finished road lever varied with what was shown on the construction design” and “variations were made to some of the drainage structures during the construction stage”.
The report also says the forensic engineers concluded that since the Likalaneng – Thaba-Tseka road is part of the Trans Maloti Highway which connects Maseru with the seaport in Durban it should have been classified as a Class A road.

“However, the road design made by WSP was based in Class B criterion and accordingly the flood return was based in 1:20 years instead of 1:50 dedicated for Class A Roads,” the report says.
“The report (CEC’s) emphasised that the supervision consultant who was responsible for the design review did not address the issue of road class”.

CEC proposed a new route for the road and recommended that it be raised by a metre and gabions be installed.
The auditor general’s report says CEC also recommended a full assessment of the whole road “as there were doubts about the carrying capacity as there were signs of deterioration and distress along the road”.
In the end the government had to hire China Geo-Engineering Corporation to sort out the mess.

For the remedial work China Geo-Engineering Corporation was paid M76.8 million. CEC was paid M1.6 million for forensic services. To supervise the remedial works the Ministry of Public Works and Transport hired SM Consulting, the same company that was leading the joint venture that managed the shoddy job done by LCCC.

The ministry paid SM Consulting M4.6 million yet the joint venture of three companies it had led during the initial construction was paid M3.9 million.

Technically this means that SM was being paid to repair the damage it contributed to creating by failing to supervise the initial contractor. The total cost of the project then ballooned to a staggering M245 million.
“There was no concrete evidence that SM Consulting Joint Venture properly supervised the road project as they failed to produce four crucial documents requested by the forensic expert,” the auditor general’s report says.

It further questions why SM Consulting was hired to supervise the remedial works “despite the fact that it was the lead supervisor of the Joint Venture of this road whose workmanship was not to the required engineering standards as revealed in the forensic expert report”.

The report also says it appears that the ministry did not take any action against LCCC for the road that was damaged during the defect liability period.

“The contractor had to return to the site to remedy the defects.”
The Auditor General concluded this chain of events “it appears doubtful that value for money would be achieved on the remedial works”.

Majara Molupe

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