Palace con­struc­tion to re­sume

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

THE Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port has con­tracted a new firm of ar­chi­tects from South Africa to com­plete the con­struc­tion of the new Royal Palace, which was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously stopped two years ago.

The build­ing has been in limbo since 2012 after South African firm, Palace Ar­chi­tects, aban­doned the project fol­low­ing a con­trac­tual dis­pute with the min­istry.

The company was pro­vid­ing ar­chi­tec­tural ex­per­tise and its de­par­ture meant the Le­sotho Steel Prod­ucts (LSP), which won the over­all ten­der in 2010, could not con­tinue with the con­struc­tion.

How­ever, the Le­sotho Times es­tab­lished this week that another South African firm, Makeka De­sign Lab, has been con­tracted to re­place Palace Ar­chi­tects, paving the way for the com­ple­tion of the project, which was ini­tially al­lo­cated M160 mil­lion by par­lia­ment in 2010.

The Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (PS), Le­bo­hang Phooko yes­ter­day con­firmed the palace’s con­struc­tion would fi­nally go ahead.

Mr Phooko said: “Con­struc­tion of the new Royal Palace is ex­pected to re­sume very soon be­cause the Min­istry of Fi­nance ap­proved our fund­ing pro­posal last month. The ap­proval fol­lowed lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tions we held with a new firm, which has agreed to take over and pro­vide us with ar­chi­tec­tural ser­vices, which had been the rea­son why the con­struc­tion had been stopped.

“I am not in a po­si­tion to know how much had al­ready been used be­fore con­struc­tion was aban­doned in 2012, but I guess you can see for your­self that the struc­tures were almost com­plete.”

While Mr Phooko would not name the company that re­placed Palace Ar­chi­tects, the Le­sotho Times has since es­tab­lished the firm is Cape Town-based Makeka De­sign Lab.

The Le­sotho Times has fur­ther dis­cov­ered that Makeka De­sign Lab is not new to the project, as the min­istry ap­pointed the same company to pro­vide in­te­rior de­sign ser­vices to the new palace in 2012.

“I will not go into de­tails of the con­tract by men­tion­ing names and monies.

“What I can only tell you is that we had prob­lems with the pre­vi­ous ar­chi­tect, who had failed to ad­here to the terms of the con­tract,” said Mr Phooko.

“We de­cided to pay all the monies which were due to that firm and then ter­mi­nated the con­tract around Fe­bru­ary this year. I should also men­tion that the ar­chi­tect had long stopped pro­vid­ing ser­vices at the con­struc­tion site, fur­ther violating terms of the con­tract.”

Asked why the new ar­chi­tect was ap­pointed with­out stan­dard ten­der­pro­cure­ment pro­cesses be­ing fol­lowed, Mr Phooko said: “The new ar­chi­tect has been work­ing with us in this project by pro­vid­ing in­te­rior de­sign ser­vices to the new palace.

“It turned out the same company also has ar­chi­tec­tural ex­per­tise, so we thought it best and cheap to turn to this firm, which we were al­ready work­ing with and is also fa­mil­iar with the new palace. It was go­ing to be more ex­pen­sive if we had again fol­lowed the ten­der process to get an ar­chi­tect.”

The Le­sotho Times con­tacted Makeka De­sign Lab in Cape Town this week, where an of­fi­cial con­firmed the company would be the palace’s new ar­chi­tects.

“It is true that we have been ap­pointed to take over ar­chi­tec­tural ser­vices at the palace, and we hope to start some­time later this month after all the pa­per­work is done,” said the of­fi­cial, who de­clined to give her name.

Mean­while, the Min­istry of Fi­nance PS, Khosi Letsie, this week con­firmed the ap­proval of the fund­ing for the palace.

“We have ap­proved a fi­nan­cial waiver worth over M131 mil­lion for the com­ple­tion of the new Royal Palace.

As the Min­istry of Fi­nance, ours was just to re­ceive jus­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port of how the money was go­ing to be used.”

the con­struc­tion of the new Royal Palace was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously stopped two years ago. In­set: trans­port PS Le­bo­hang Phooko.

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