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Bridging the cracks

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Plateau residents unimpressed with bridge contractor

With Kazungula Bridge finally complete, the South Korean construction company that built it, Daewoo E&C are set to depart the country imminently.

Although they leave with a stunning piece of architecture as their legacy, they also leave the residents of Kasane’s Plateau ward with a foul taste in the mouth.

The people of Plateau claim their troubles began in 2016, two years after construction on the bridge started.

According to the ward’s Councillor, Boitumelo Kanyethu, several houses were damaged by the use of heavy machinery during the building of houses for consultants.

“The operation affected a lot of houses in the area. I saw it with my own eyes. Windows and floors cracked. Luckily for us, the consultant was also called to witness the damage their machines were causing to the nearby houses,” he explained.

PEOPLE’S VOICE: Councillor Kanyethu

Although Daewoo E&C duly took responsibility for the damage, Kanyethu said the compensation process took ‘longer than expected’.

“Some residents ended up using their own money to repair cracked walls and replace broken windows. The contractor, however, did come on board and hired local companies to carry out the repairs.”

The councillor admitted the delay could have been caused by the fact some residents wanted monetary compensation instead of having their houses fixed.

However, he explained that financial compensation was never part of the agreement with the contractor.

“It’s never an easy thing to do because we’re talking about government money. I’ve also asked those who used their own money to fix their houses to compile their receipts so that we can work on how they can be compensated. Unfortunately, none of them have come back to me!” added Kanyethu.

Addressing the media during the final inspection of the bridge on Saturday, the Consultant revealed that in total 32 houses in Plateau were damaged.

“There was a consultation with the owners of the said houses and an agreement was reached to engage upcoming contractors to carry out repair work. All 32 houses have been successfully repaired, contractors have been paid and the house owners are happy,” concluded the consultant.

Or are they?

“I’m not happy. The contractor took long to fix my house and I ended up using my money through Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA),” blasted Botsweletse Naga.

Naga is among the few Plateau residents who did not have the patience to wait for the contractor and decided to dip into their own pockets to repair the damage.

UNHAPPY: Naga

“They eventually came and put the finishing touches to the house. However, they used the wrong shade for the interior paint! I pointed this out to the consultant who promised to attend to it – but to this day he never returned,” griped a visibly annoyed Naga.

Another resident, Nancy Mabuthe, whose house was one of worst affected, told The Voice that while she’s pleased the contractor eventually ensured the houses were fixed, she is unimpressed with the way it was done.

“All the cracks on the wall were fixed, I’ve no complaints there. But look at this, they flatly refused to fix that,” she said, pointing at a gaping crack on the paving.

NOT AMUSED: Mabuthe

“They had initially promised after inspection that they’ll fix everything, now they’re gone,” Mabuthe mumbled, adding she hopes they’ve done a better job on the P3 billion bridge.

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