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Civil society condemns Karoi council over botched truck deal

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THE Karoi Town Council procurement committee has come under fire from civil society organisations over its alleged incompetence which has caused a legal battle with a car supplier who has failed to deliver a truck ordered in 2017.

NHAU MANGIRAZI

Solution Motors won a tender to supply a Nissan UD compact refuse truck in 2017, but was not delivered.

Karoi Development Agenda, a coalition of civil society organisations that advocate social justice, transparency and accountability, has called on professionalism at the council.

‘‘This puts to question the type of people we have at council. The procurement committee is unprofessional and it exposes the accounting officer at the council as failing to help out to bring sanity at the council. There was no due diligence to award a tender to a company that had a dark past of not honouring its obligation. Solution Motors duped government and a local authority out of its own wisdom or lack of it awards a tender to the same supplier,’’ said the organisation in a statement.

The organisation also accused council bosses of corruption.

“There is serious abuse of public funds as there is lack of transparency. Competency at town house remains suspect. Overlooking such an anomaly of background checks of any organisation raises eyebrows and awarding a contract to a company that was blacklisted soon after getting the award raises more questions than answers,” reads the statement.

“This was deliberate and driven by motives of a few individuals aimed at siphoning public funds. The error of the undelivered truck has been costly to the residents and this affects service delivery. We have to live with erratic refuse collection and also pay heavily for a hired refuse truck when the money should have bought a new truck from a credible supplier.

“Our council has never been transparent as a few top officials take it as an offence when they are asked to be professional and accountable. We are talking about public funds not personnel funds and we condemn how council failed to discharge its duties in getting a refuse truck from credible supplier. This is being done as a sinister plot of improper procurement of council equipment for personal benefits.’’

Karoi council has been in a legal war with Solution Motors since 2019 over the undelivered truck, resulting in the matter going for arbitration. Arbitrator Susan Mutangadura ruled in council’s favour on 12 July 2019.

Recently, council lawyers Mangwana and Partners legal practitioners approached Mutangadura to quantify how much must be paid after the supplier reneged on the judgment.

In her arbitration award, Mutangadura ruled that Solution Motors must ‘‘deliver to Karoi Town Council a brand new 20 self-weighing refuse truck UD or a similar model within the period of 8 to 12 weeks of the date of arbitral award.

Part of the award reads: ‘‘In the event that the respondent fails to provide the said truck as said in this order it is hereby ordered the agreement of sale between the two parties is cancelled and respondent shall pay damages to the claimant being equivalent to 70 percent of the value of the value of the same or similar refuse truck as provided in the agreement entered into on 20 July 2017.’’

The arbitrator noted then that the claimant successfully established the “breach of contract and entitlement to damages’’.

 

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