By Bahle Gama
Inyatsi Construction has handed over the now fully completed Makhosini Drive popularly known as Sifundzani Road.
The road which Inyatsi started rehabilitating sometime last year was officially handed over to the City Council management in an event that was graced by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane.
Making her remarks, Municipality Council of Mbabane’s interim Mayor Daphne Mhlanga said the rehabilitation of the Makhosini road along Sifundzani Primary School has been long overdue.
Mhlanga expressed her delight over the completion of the road which she said has haunted the council and residents for years.
“Today marks a moment of pride and joy for the council and management as we put behind us an unpleasant reality that haunted council and residents for several years as the road deteriorated menacingly to unacceptable levels,” she said.
The interim Mayor admitted that the road quality was very poor, with various manifestations of distress, which indicated that the subsurface layers had failed and warranted major rehabilitation.
“Truth be told, the road deservingly gained a somewhat notorious reputation among motorists and residents,” Mhlanga said.
She further clarified that delays in fixing the road were a result of the Council not having the required budget.
“Council could not commission the project due to inadequate funding and the rehabilitation and upgrading of the road including adding streetlights had a total cost of about E6.8 million,” she said.
The work entailed extensive reworking of the pavement base, sub-base, and provision of a new road surface. Together this was done with the improvements of junctions, drainage, sidewalks, and street lighting.
Mhlanga stated that the road plays a very critical role in the city as an orbital road that is an alternative route to the highly trafficked Sozisa Road.
According to Mhlanga, the construction of the road followed the best practice principles all local authorities learned during the World Bank-funded Eswatini Local Government Project.
“By this, I mean the affected stakeholders were consulted before construction began so they would be aware of what was being planned. We have tried to accommodate all their concerns within the tight budget constraints,” she said.
She further extended appreciation to Inyatsi Construction for aligning itself with Council’s job creation policy for Mbabane residents, as Council now insists that projects like this should contribute to employment creation within the community, instead of hiring outside of the town.
“I have been informed that indeed the project, small as it is, employed 64 people, half of which were from Mbabane, 20 of these were women. Which is part of our requirement to ensure that service providers and contractors should be gender-sensitive,” she said.
She added that it is Council’s objective to have all roads in Mbabane fully rehabilitated and further challenged all businesses to employ more women to give preference to local community members.
Making brief remarks, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane applauded all stakeholders for a job well done.
“The first thing that is looked at in every town or country, is the state of the road(s). We are very thankful that this road has been fixed. I used to ask myself how such a road is in town, especially the capital city because of the state it was in,” he said.
Inyatsi Construction General Manager Sanele Msibi said it was an honour to hand over the project and thanked Council for the opportunity to deliver a first-world project as per the King’s vision.
“We are proud to have been part of this project and we are confident that it will serve the community for many years to come.
“We know very well that when a road is in an urban area, there are existing residents who are not pleased because of the inconvenience caused. We sincerely apologize for that, but having seen the works completed, we believe they are pleased,” Msibi said.
The GM stated that one of the good things is that this project has created a platform for training an African team, transferring, and sharing skills as Inyatsi is a multinational company and yet headquartered in Eswatini.
“We are pleased to report that this objective has been achieved. Our team has gained valuable experience and skills that will be beneficial in future projects.
Furthermore, this project is contributing to the economy of the country. The construction industry is a key driver of economic growth, and we are proud to have played a part in supporting the economy of Eswatini,” he said.
He further gave assurance to the Council that Inyatsi will continue to provide support even after the handover.
“Our team will be available to provide any assistance that may be required to ensure that the road remains in good condition for years to come,” he said.
The GM also committed to ensuring that the same project at Somhlolo Road will be completed by the end of July. Speaking on behalf of beneficiaries, Sifundzani Chairman of the Board Sicelo Mashwama stated that the project has added value to the school.
“We have an appreciation as board and parents towards this project and we believe that as a school we will attract more outside pupils. We do appreciate the action taken by the Council because the road was in a very bad state,” he said.
Mashwama further appreciated the standard the road is in and the safeguarding or provisions put on the road to ensure the safety of our pupils, adding that “we appreciate that they didn’t just fix the road, but also put lighting.”
Licilongo selikhalile-Gideon Mhlongo
Municipality Council of Mbabane CEO Gideon Mhlongo has implied that his time in office has come to an end, and he is ready for anything.
The CEO was introducing interim Mayor Daphne Mhlanga during the official handover of Makhosini road along Sifundzani by Inyatsi Construction Group, where he made brief remarks about his term in office.
“Licilongo selikhalile and I’m not sure whether I’ll be around to introduce to the nation the new Mayor,” he said leaving attendants in stitches, before proceeding with his formal remarks.
Mhlongo has been in office since August 2018 when his contract was renewed following its expiry in July 2018. Worth noting is that at the time, the council was consistently refusing to renew the contract and following an instruction from then Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza.
The contractual issue had been a subject of intense debate in recent months of the same year, in that on May 2018, councillors took the resolution not to renew the contract.
On June 15, 2018, Mabuza wrote a memorandum in which he ordered the council to embark on a contractual negotiations renewal process with Mhlongo, and ordered that the contract should be submitted for ministerial consideration by the close of business on July 21 of the same year.
He further warned that failure to do so would result in Mhlongo’s contract being extended for another five years effective on August 1, 2018, and the council defied the instruction. They wrote to the minister and informed him that they had difficulty in extending Mhlongo’s contract of employment.
Meanwhile, the current Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane piggy bagged on Mhlongo’s joke as he stated that Sibaya had been summoned by the King.
“As the King has summoned all emaSwati to Sibaya, it is therefore highly possible that my days are numbered as the Minister for the housing and urban development portfolio,” the minister said.