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Chinese company refurbishes airport

Mohalenyane Phakela

A CHINESE company, Chu Ye (Pty) Ltd, has completed the refurbishment of the VIP and VVIP lounges at the Moshoeshoe I Airport ahead of the visit of high profile delegates including former American presidents and their wives for the cancer conference which gets underway next week in Maseru.

The principal secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Mothabathe Hlalele, did not hold back in his praise for the work that was done by the company, describing the new-look airport facilities as a masterpiece.

Dubbed the 12th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancers in Africa (SCCA) Conference, the event will be held in Maseru from 22 to 25 July.

The ministry of health has previously said that three former American presidents, Bill Clinton, George Walker Bush and Barrack Obama will accompany their spouses, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama to the conference which will hosted by the First Lady, ‘Maesaiah Thabane.

The Chinese company, Chun Ye, started work to refurbish the airport on 11 June this year after being contracted by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for the M2.8 million job.

The company had been given until yesterday to complete the job and yesterday, Mr Hlalele, said the company had completed the task to the ministry’s satisfaction.

“What we wanted was for the contractor to refurbish the VIP and VVIP lounges of the airport and uplift to international standards,” Mr Hlalele said.

“What I can say is that we are no longer ashamed to accommodate our important guests at those airport facilities due to the masterpiece that they have become.

“However, that is just a tip in the ocean as our plan is to completely transform the entire airport into one that Basotho can be truly proud of. We are in a preparatory stage and by summer we should engage contractors to do the work,” Mr Hlalele added.

The Sunday Express recently visited the airport and saw a new-look facility that was aesthetically pleasing. The floors, roofing, furniture and the restrooms were freshly minted.

The propeller fans which used to hang loosely from the ceiling have since been replaced with more modern fans.

The faux wood tiling on the floor blends perfectly with the walls while new lights illuminate the lounges from the ceiling.

Leather couches have also been introduced to replace the less comfortable office-style chairs which used to welcome visitors to the facilities.

New working taps have been installed and no more will the visitor have to contend with irritating sound of dripping water from the faulty taps in the lavatories and the unsightly tins located below the toilet basins to catch the dripping water.

Chun Ye is one of three Chinese companies which were shortlisted for the M2.8 million tender by the Public Works ministry’s Building Design Services (BDS) through selective tendering process in May this year.

The other two Chinese companies are Jiang & MT Engineering and Debris Inc. (Pty) Ltd.

There was an outcry by local contractors over the choice of the Chinese companies with the locals arguing they should have been awarded the job as they were more than capable of doing it within the required time.

Thirty two local contractors subsequently wrote to the Public Accounts Committee to express their displeasure over what they regard as “the  disproportionate award (of tenders)…which seems to compromise the core values of integrity, transparency, fairness, accountability, service ethics, empowering of local employees and stakeholders”.

“The thriving trend of awarding construction projects to non-local companies can only but cripple the ailing economy of the country and add to Basotho’s misery of poverty and unemployment.

“This has to be discouraged by all means and we believe that your good office (PAC) can play a big role in significantly reducing this practice and paving the way for corrective measures to be implemented,” the contractors wrote.

The PAC has since promised to look into their grievances.

In its defence, Mr Hlalele said the Public Works ministry decided on the selective tendering rather than an open tender process which would have included all companies as it racing against time to refurbish the airport.



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