Struggles to complete purchase of need equipment for operations
MASERU – A sorry state of funds has hampered the Roads Directorate from placing earth moving and road construction equipment planned for national projects at their destined areas of operation.
In particular the directorate points to failure to place the heavy road construction machinery abandoned at its head office to the country’s Northern Region to help maintain roads that have been damaged by heavy rains.
The road construction machinery is commonly referred to as the yellow plant. This is the explanation given to this publication by the Director General at the directorate, Seboka Thamae, following an article on the yellow plant carried by this paper in its last issue. He says the yellow plant was supposed to have been placed in the Northern Region “but remains idle where it is because it still incomplete.”
The yellow plant was bought by Ministry of Public Works in 2019 with approximately M10 million, as a provision to respond to roads damage emergencies. Thamae said the proposal for the placement of the machinery country to the Road Fund, from the Road Directorate, requested “a full set of yellow plant cost which costs M15.3 million at the time…excluding operation costs that include maintenance, fuel and drivers’ salaries.”
He said the proposal showed that the total cost needed for the plant to be operational was M23.9 Million, “but the Road Fund only managed to give them M9.8 Million for the project.” “What we did with the available money was purchase machinery that the money could afford. But for the whole to be complete, there are still other machines that need to be bought.
We had an arrangement with the Road Fund, that when the moment they received money they will provide us with additional finances to complete our purchase; this has not happened to date. The money has not been availed due to several constraints and the COVID-19,” Thamae said. He noted that they have been requesting for additional funds from Road Fund for the past years since they made their first purchase in 2019 “but we are not getting any.”
Thamae said the plan was to have the three sets of the yellow plant for the country’s three regions, being North, South and Central regions. He said over and above the shortage of machinery, the problem of operational costs for the yellow plant remains a major problem.
“You cannot have this kind of machinery which is hugely expensive and fail to have it serviced. It needs to be well serviced so that we do not encounter a challenge which is most common in the country of machineries being parked because they are broken.
These are very sensitive machines that need to be services regularly and for that we need funds to be able to operate the plant. When this plant arrived, such funds were not available. It is only now during the state of disaster that has been declared by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro that we are making arrangements to see if we can buy the remaining machinery to complete the plant from the emergency fund allocation so that the plant can work,” he said.
Thamae noted that there is hope that they will be able to buy the remaining machineries and currently are working to get the cost of the remaining machineries and the operational funds of the plant. In its previous issue, Public Eye reported of this road construction equipment for basic road maintenance activities on gravel roads to enable durability and access which remains indolent at the ministry.
The equipment, comprising a 12 Tonne Pad foot roller, 12 Tonne Smooth drum roller, pedestrian roller, 12 Tonne excavator, a motor grader and a tractor loader backhoe (TLB) and was funded by the Road Fund. It was handed over to then Minister of Works, Prince Maliehe by Dr Moeketsi Majoro who was finance minister at the time.
The abandoned brand new machinery becomes a sore sight when only on February 16 Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro requested development partners to help government as it planned to rebuild impaired roads following recent floods that caused destruction across the country. Majoro said Lesotho requires M70 000 000 to M100 000 000 to deal with the damage.