Thursday, 22 November 2018

ROAD CONTRACTORS PULL OUT IN CASH ROW


Contractors rehabilitating roads in Harare have stopped work after the Harare City Council delayed paying them despite the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) availing the funds.

Bitumen World, which is carrying out most of the work under the Government’s Emergency Roadworks Rehabilitation Project, said it was forced to stop work this week as Harare City Council has failed to remit $4 million allocated by Zinara.

In an interview yesterday, Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme confirmed the delay in payments.

“There has been a delay, but it is administrative,” he said. “Some of the contractors have asked for price variations. We are still waiting for the approvals to pay the new prices from the relevant authorities. We have communicated the same to the contractors.”

Mr Chideme said the matter was “receiving due attention”. “As you are aware, there is the issue of escalating prices,” he said.

“Some of the contractors are importing bitumen from outside the country and they are expecting to be paid at the obtaining rate of the US dollar, so the escalations have to be approved and we are awaiting for the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities because we do not want to do short cuts and we need to follow procedures.”

But Bitumen finance director Mr Devilious Sibanda accused city authorities of being insincere and giving flimsy reasons to delay the payments.

“At times we are told we have used the wrong rates in their adjudication process, yet this is done after Zinara has approved our papers,” he said.

“Of late, the audit department has even told us that our tax clearance certificate is not valid  despite the fact that this was a document that was issued by a Government department, Zinara.

“The truth is that they are really putting so much spanners that you wonder if they really want us to execute these works.”

Mr Sibanda said the company could no longer do any works as it had run out of working capital. Herald

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