By ‘Majirata Latela
The communities of Sebothoane and Phelindaba in the Leribe district are accusing Moqoqolo Construction of causing major disruptions to their movement after making a running and leaving a 11.5km gravel road unfinished.
The communities have as a result been left with no choice but to repair the road themselves as the only option to ease movement of both people and vehicles.
Anger and disappointment were evident on their faces as they went about the task, but they could still manage some songs.
Repairing the road on their own without expert supervision means it will it will not be a durable product and will always suffer frequent damages from torrents.
The Department of Roads Directorate’ public relations officer, Nozesolo Matela, told thereporter that Maqoqolo Construction was very slow in completing the road construction. Progress was not satisfactory, prompting the department to decide it was best to terminate the company’s contract; this was purely on the basis of poor performance.
“The 11.5 kilometres Sebothoane-Qoqolosing was meant to be re-gravelled but the contractor’s engagement was terminated even before he could finish because he showed signs from the beginning that he was working at a slow pace.
“Unfortunately, when the February floods came, they caused even more damage to the road since it was already unfinished. However, I do anticipate that the road will be fixed in three to six months and the community will be able to get back to their normal lives which are currently disrupted by the road.
“The road is going to be part of the roads and bridges maintenance initiative. Maqoqolo is no longer in the picture,” she said.
She added that Maqoqolo was only paid a certain portion of the money budgeted for the re- gravelling of the road. She said contractors are according to the rules and regulations, paid as they work; they only get money for the work they have done.
“Contractors receive certificates of completion for every work that they do; these certificates are issued by supervisors who will be on site to oversee the work that the contractor will do on a daily basis. They are paid according to their output.
“There are laws that lead us to termination of a contract, and they are very harsh, but the Roads Directorate usually bends some of the rules on Basotho contractors. This is because we want them to grow; enforcing some of the rules laws would mean killing their business for good sometimes,” Matela said.
On the other hand, the community members taking part in the DIY road construction said they are very disappointed in Maqoqolo because the company has left them without completing the work assigned to it, and now the road has been damaged badly by the recent rains.
Leabua Mphapi who lives at Likoting Ha Kabelo who uses the road on a daily basis, said the road has caused major disruption to their lives in that it has now become a one-way road, forcing cars from opposite directions to wait for each other at some point to, to ease movement.
“Not only that, but we have to wait for each other to pass at some stages where the road is badly damaged; the road is also very slippery and we are scared that there may be accidents especially during rainy days.
“Sadly enough this is the only road that we have; there is no other alternative route. More than 30 villages around here use this Sebothoane-Phelindaba road.
“The reason we took it upon ourselves to fix this road ourselves is that we reported this road many times to some government officials but they never showed any will to help us. We then realised that we are on our own, left to our own devices; so we were not going to fold our arms and put our trust in the government,” he said sadly.
Another resident, Katsane Mathibela also said since contractor disappeared in 2013, they have been pleading with the government to bring another contractor, but no one ever really paid attention and, in the meantime, the condition of the road continued to deteriorate until a huge ravine formed in the middle of the road.
“In 2019, we even held a procession to the District Administrator’s office but with no luck as we were never assisted. Maqoqolo has showed incompetence; this road needs an experienced contractor because it is now very badly damaged.
“We have also been neglected by our own Members of Parliament, they also use this road but we have never heard them pose a question in parliament to the relevant ministry on our behalf, it’s like they don’t care because they only use it when they are not in Maseru,” Mathibela said.
Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro declared a state of emergency in the wake of large-scale destruction of public and private properties caused by heavy rainfalls that left roads and bridges eroded.
A total of M176million has been allocated to the ministry of public works and ministry of local government and chieftaincy, to fix footbridges, roads and vehicle bridges damaged by the torrents.
It was just last year when theReporter published a story of a development that was left unfinished and threatened people’s lives. The ministry of public works and transport admitted that it had failed the community of Ha Tseka in Maseru after budgetary constraints led to the abandonment of the construction of a footbridge that connects Ha Tseka to Ha Penapena two years prior.
The M1.2million project is said to have commenced in the 2017/2018 financial year, only for the bridge to be left unfinished when funds were not allocated to complete it in the next financial year. As a result, people’s lives have been put at risk as they have since resorted to using homemade wooden ladders to climb the bridge and make it across.
The chief of Ha Tseka, ‘Malineo Tseka, said they had for many years been pleading for a bridge that links Ha Abia and Ha Tseka, which would have been the shortest route that people could use to go to town and back.
“Many of our residents work in Maseru, especially at the textile factories and this is the shortest route they can use to get to work on time. We have pleaded to the government for more than five years to help us build this bridge.”