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Kazungula bridge behind schedule

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The construction of the multi-million Pula Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi river that started with the laying of a temporary bridge over three months ago is behind schedule, Business Trends learnt recently. 

Ministry of Transport and Communications’ Permanent Secretary, Neil Fitt said the contractor is behind schedule with only a couple of months. “The site offices, staff houses are behind schedule with three months. However, critical parts are the items of the bridge.

The work on the temporary bridge delayed over the delivery of the cranes to the site. We are expecting another set of equipment to come in soon. There are no additional costs that the government will incur in these delays,” Neil clarified. Although the original site started in the Zambian side over three months ago, the ministry’s most senior technocrat indicated that Botswana site was expected to start this week.

Fitt’s political boss, minister Tshenolo Mabeo told this publication that, “the contractor has since put up a catch up plan to ensure that progress is put back on trail. It shows the contractor will be able to catch-up by June/July 2016. He will be able to reach the target indicated in the original programming.” What is behind schedule, Mabeo said was mainly the construction of the staff houses. The minister said the temporary bridge is to facilitate trade between countries before the construction of the main bridge.

The Kazungula Bridge is aimed at facilitating effective trade between Botswana and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries through reduced transit time for freight and passengers. The bridge is being undertaken by Zambia and Botswana with financial assistance from Japan International Co-operation Agency and the African Development Bank.

The contractor, Daewoo Engineering and Construction of South Korea is already on site and has employed about 300 workers from both Zambia and Botswana. The project is expected to take four years to complete. The bridge is being constructed at a cost of about P1,4 billion.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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