M10.5m road construction equipment abandoned

While Majoro requests partners to help rebuild impaired roads

MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU – Road construction equipment valued at over M10.5 million purchased in 2019 for basic road maintenance activities on gravel roads to enable durability and access remains indolent at the Ministry of Works headquarters in Maseru a year later.

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 to the tune of M10 629 450.

It was handed over to then Minister of Works, Prince Maliehe by Dr Moeketsi Majoro who was finance minister at the time. The handover was in December 2019 in a ceremony held at the Roads Directorate headquarters, planned for deployment particularly in the rural parts of the country as well as to rapidly respond to emergencies.

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. The heavy rains not only damaged road infrastructure, but agricultural production and food security as well, prompting Majoro to declare a six-month state of emergency.

Majoro said Lesotho requires M70 000 000 to M100 000 000 to deal with the damage. The floods were a result of ‘Cyclone Eloise’ which mainly affected neighbouring countries, bringing heavy rains into Lesotho. This damage, he said, has affected the entire country and coming on top of the COVID-19 pandemic “hence government’s decision to declare a State of Emergency in the country.”

Majoro continued that government has already mobilised resources to address the situation, including establishing dedicated ministerial committee and instructing all disaster management structures to mobilise and re-deploy all local government yellow plant to affected areas and re-directing at least 5 000 government employees to assist in the rehabilitation process.

Citizens, according to reports from around the country, have been left without necessary services due to the destruction of infrastructure – including bridges. Speaking to this publication, former Minister of Public Works Prince Maliehe confirmed that indeed the abandoned machinery was bought to respond to emergency road repairs.

“The yellow plant was bought to ensure quick response to emergencies. Normally where construction of roads is concerned, there are tendering processes that need to be followed. But with this machinery, the ministry planned to be able to respond to arising crisis without following the time consuming processes,” he said.

He noted that the plan was to buy similar machinery for the three regions of the country, adding that “the equipment you are referring to was supposed to be in the North region already assisting with roads repairs.” Maliehe also confirmed that the equipment has been parked at the ministry’s head office since 2019 to reasons unknown to him.

Principal Secretary in Ministry of Public Works, Retšelisitsoe Mohale, declined to answer questions on the reasons the equipment was abandoned. He said he knows nothing concerning the plant, and therefore could not comment on anything relating to it. “I can only be available to say something if you were to ask me about the ministry’s plans to repair the country’s roads.”

“If you were to ask me about these damaged roads I can provide an answer in a very clear way, but the moment you bring in issues relating to the yellow plant then I won’t say anything,” Mohale matter-of-factly said.

The publication further contacted the Acting Director General of the Ministry, Sam Kikine, who referred this reporter to the ministry’s director Nozizolo Mpopo Matela. Mpopo’s mobile phone was unreachable until time for print yesterday.

 

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