…MPs probe contractors
…lies, deceit on project sites
GOVERNMENT is losing millions of dollars to dubious contractors amid suspicions most of the companies winning tenders are backed by powerful politicians yet they lack the capacity to deliver on projects.
A probe has since begun, with the parliamentary committee on Lands and Agriculture saying it will focus on how several contractors were awarded contracts to construct critical dams across the country.
Most of the projects have been stalled or delayed, with a recent visit to Silobela at the site of the construction of Vungu Dam exposing how a company was awarded a tender but without the required capacity and experience.
The committee chairperson, who is also Gokwe-Nembudziya member of Parliament, Justice Mayor Wadyajena (pictured), said they were probing over four dams to establish how contracts were awarded. He expressed disappointment over the work done so far by Grindale Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, the company awarded the contract for the dam.
“We have received information from the government and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) over the slow progress. It’s now on 2% instead of 10%,” Wadyajena said.
“We are here on a fact finding mission and want to establish what the contractor has done so far.”
“We will go back to Parliament, deliberate on the tenders, Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) tender documents and we are not looking at Vungu only, we have other dams as well, about four or more we are looking into,” Wadyajena said.
MPs left the Vungu Dam site in a huff over the weekend after failing to find satisfactory answers on why the authorities settled for the contractor who had shown lack of capacity to construct the dam.
It was not immediately established how Grindale Engineering got the tender but available information suggests the owners were linked to a senior government official.
Company representative Grison Muwidzi, the firm’s managing director, was accused by the MPs of misleading them on that they had bought equipment worth over millions of dollars.
It was established that the company had not purchased material as claimed by the representative while some of the machinery on display on the day MPs toured the project were not working.
But Grindale Engineering insists it was on course to complete on time the project, a first dam construction project for them, but bemoaned the government’s slow pace of the government’s disbursement of required funds.
The dam construction was set to take 36 months and the handover to the contractor was only done in January this year.
The government has only disbursed a total of US$2 624 271.51 of the required US$8.7 million, which is 10% of the total cost of the dam construction.
When completed, the dam is set to benefit the nearby community with irrigation facilities for over 1 200 hectares.
Further investigations by the MPs revealed that no work had been done on the site since the handover while action only started two days before their visit as part of the investigation and fact-finding mission.
Workers who spoke to the MPs and journalists confirmed work only started days before the trip while also exposing that contrary to claims that the contractor had used over US$3 million to buy material, most of the equipment on the ground was hired.
The company said it has built smaller dams in the mines but failed to name the dams and the mines, an act the MPs interpreted as failure and questioned why such a company won the tender for a big project.
Wadyajena questioned why the company won the bid yet it has no equipment, with some MPs wondering whether the company was fronting big political actors.