The M500 million Palace mess

The M500 million Palace mess

MASERU – THE cost of the Royal Palace has ballooned to half a billion maloti amid a blame game among those involved in the project that has dragged for seven years. The Ministry of Public Works this week put the total cost of the project at M400 million but those involved say it could end up almost M500 million.

That is a staggering M300 million more from the initial budget that was around M200 million. The actual cost of building the palace was M136 million but the total reached M200 million because of the consultants’ fees.

The Ministry of Public Works’ principal secretary, Mothabati Hlalele, has since ordered the contractors to accelerate the project.
Hlalele told thepost that he has given the contractors and consultants until October this year to complete the project that started in August 2011.
“There is not going to be any further delay on that one,” Hlalele said. “This has become a national embarrassment and it has to stop.”

He said the plan was that the Royal Family would move in by November. But several experts who spoke to thepost described Hlalele’s deadline as “highly ambitious”, saying the realistic date of completion should be mid-2019.

They say accelerating the project will ratchet up the cost by between M35 million and M50 million. Hlalele said he was hurt and angry that the project has cost M400 million yet it is still not complete. thepost this week publishes a Special Report that reveals the true magnitude of the mess in the projects.

The report tells a story of a project that lacked strong monitoring, contractors who did shoddy work, an architect who delayed with crucial drawings and made additional changes to the initial design.

The investigation shows most of the extra money the government paid was due to wastage.It appears only a little of the additional M300 million paid for the project went into the actual building. There are also the additional charges the government had to pay the contractor and the other consultants like the architects for design changes.

The Special Report also shows friction between the LSP Construction, the contractor, and Makeka Design Lab, the architects.
For the first time the former architect who was fired in 2013 after demanding interest on late payment speaks out about his treatment.

The Ministry of Public Works’ principal secretary, Mothabathe Hlalele, has since ordered the contractors to accelerate the project.
Hlalele told thepost that he has given the contractors and consultants until October this year to complete the project that started in August 2011.
“There is not going to be any further delay on that one,” Hlalele said.

“This has become a national embarrassment and it has to stop.” He said the plan was that the Royal Family would move in by November.
But several experts who spoke to thepost described Hlalele’s deadline as “highly ambitious”, saying the realistic date of completion should be mid-2019.

They say accelerating the project will ratchet up the cost by between M35 million and M50 million. Hlalele said he was hurt and angry that the project has cost M400 million yet it is still not complete. thepost this week publishes a Special Report that reveals the true magnitude of the mess in the projects. The report tells a story of a project that lacked strong monitoring, contractors who did shoddy work, an architect who delayed with crucial drawings and made additional changes to the initial design.

The investigation shows most of the extra money the government paid was due to wastage. It appears only a little of the additional M300 million paid for the project went into the actual building. There are also the additional charges the government had to pay the contractor and the other consultants like the architects for design changes. The Special Report also shows friction between the LSP Construction, the contractor, and Makeka Design Lab, the architects. For the first time the former architect who was fired in 2013 after demanding interest on late payment speaks out about his treatment.

Staff Reporter

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