Friday 28 January 2022


GOVERNMENT has terminated two road contracts and blacklisted the contractors for poor workmanship and delays in completing projects awarded to them under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2), while audits are imminent to establish how devolution funds were used.

The contractors, who could not be named as investigations into their conduct are still in progress, were accused of failing to resume work in Nyanga and Chimanimani districts.

This shows the seriousness with which the Government is dealing with dubious contractors targeting ERRP2 and devolution funds.

Secretary for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Edgars Seenza said gone are the days when contractors would collude with rogue Government officials to doctor progress reports of projects awarded to them.

He said monitoring of progress is now very strict at every step of project implementation.

Mr Seenza said Government wants to ensure value for every cent spent on its projects, and cautioned contractors and local authorities to abide by the rules and ensure that all projects are completed on time.

He said timelines now have to be adhered to because this has been a loophole where project costs were being varied to allow corruption to thrive.

In the past, some contractors took advantage of ineptitude and the vastness of the province to carry out shoddy work as Government officials rarely visited to evaluate the projects.

“The projects were terminated and the contractors were blacklisted as they failed to perform to expected standards. They had been contracted to do some work in Nyanga and Chimanimani. We do not know how they were contracted, but we are shunning those who are not performing to our satisfaction so that we achieve set targets as a province.

“The tender process was done by road authorities, and we were only involved in the monitoring of the projects. I do not know whether they failed to perform because they had too many projects or lacked capacity. Some could have accepted many projects without commensurate equipment,” said Mr Seenza.

Provincial roads engineer, Engineer Kudzai Maganga said dubious contractors will not be paid for poor service as Government is bent on providing citizens with value for money.

“The blacklisted contractors, which we cannot disclose their identity at this juncture, will not participate in future Government projects. We are in the process of re-tendering the works. It is a setback and we have penalised them. They also risk having their other projects elsewhere revoked depending on performance,” said Engineer Maganga.

He said contractors are registered under professional bodies like the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (CIFOZ), the Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association (ZBCA) or the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.

Registrations can be withdrawn in the event that standing rules and procedures are not adhered to.

Engineer Maganga said contractors are not paid before performing the job.

“Even where they have performed, we do not pay the contractor the whole amount, but retain a certain amount that is only payable if we do not experience problems with the projects within the liability period ranging between three and 12 months. If the project develops problems within that period, and the contractor fails to fix them, that money will be used by the road authority to maintain that project,” said Engineer Maganga.

Turning to devolution, Mr Seenza said the expenditure of the funds must be audited to ensure transparency on how they were utilised.

“I cannot say whether the funds were used properly or not in the absence of an audit. Only an audit can establish how these funds were used, although we have not yet received any adverse reports,” he said.

His comments follow reports of bid rigging, corruption, fronting and insider deals involving dubious contractors who either supply goods or services at inflated prices or cash in on fictitious tender deals.

Mutare City, which a few years ago lost US$300 000 in the dubious Dangamvura pipeline deal, has changed its payment modalities and now pays after delivery or completion of work.

Council spokesperson, Mr Spren Mutiwi said the changes were recommended by auditors after detecting a stockpile of goods and services that had been paid for, but not delivered.

“The process now involves a lot of diligence and product specifications. We deal with companies registered with the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and we no longer pay in advance, but upon delivery or completion of the job. This is to guard against briefcase companies that want to be paid and disappear. Previously council had goods and services worth millions of dollars that were paid for, but were not delivered. These are some of the red flags raised by auditors that we are correcting. Council lost a lot of money in the Dangamvura pipeline deal, and that cannot be repeated. Those were the lessons, and we cannot continue losing money,” said Mr Mutiwi.

The Manica Post understands that Chipinge Town Council was embroiled in a nasty fight with Butimen Resources after the company had been contracted to rehabilitate roads in the town.

The project, estimated at $5 million, drew the ire of residents after the roads developed cracks and potholes soon after completion.

The drainage system is also poor. It is alleged that the company also failed to meet the deadline, thereby forcing the local authority to effect a two percent liability penalty.

The acting town secretary, Mr James Mutemera, said the $5 million is safe as the company was supposed to be paid upon the completion of a good job.

 Local authorities have also blamed the lengthy procurement process imposed by PRAZ, coupled with runaway parallel market exchange rates, for driving up costs.

They said by the time PRAZ approves their tenders, the cost of goods and services would have gone up manifold.

For example, Rusape Town Council, which recently purchased a grader using devolution funds, ended up paying $41. 9 million instead of $22 million due to the delays.

RTC chairman, Councillor Lyton Sithole said: “When the tenders were flighted, the adjudication committee selected the best bidder looking at the financial component and value for money. The process dragged for months and by the time we got the approval, the selected companies could not immediately supply arguing that they did not have the product in stock, and needed at least two months to do so.

“They also varied the price upwards and we ended up paying $41.9 million. As a result we were only able to achieve a quarter of the projects we were supposed to do under devolution,” said Councillor Sithole. Manica Post




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