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US$87m dam project tender condemned



…Praz disqualified ‘winning’ firm

THE Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) had condemned the awarding of an US$87 million tender to Grindale Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, citing a number of reasons amid questions as to why the company was chosen despite its shortcomings, it has emerged.


Grindale Engineering was awarded the multi-million-dollar tender for the construction of Vungu Dam in Silobela, Midlands province, by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) without satisfying laid down requirements.

Praz had raised questions that were not immediately addressed, including evidence of experience in handling similar projects, before the tender could be processed. But before Praz could be furnished with the information, Grindale Engineering was awarded the tender and received over US$2 million as part-payment for the project.

The parliamentary committee on Lands chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya member of Parliament Justice Mayor Wadyajena on Tuesday quizzed Zinwa officials and Grindale over how the tender was awarded despite the Praz reservations.

“Praz said they (Grindale Engineering) failed to meet specific requirements. So if a company fails you give them a tender?” Wadyajena asked Zinwa officials during a committee hearing.

Several MPs present also weighed in before demanding documents on how the company finally ended up getting the tender despite reservations on its capacity raised by Praz.

There was also suspicion raised over the role of the Lands ministry in the opaque transaction.

“Why did you go ahead and award this tender to them when Praz had reservations? What role did the ministry play in this?” Wadyajena quizzed Zinwa chief executive officer Taurai Maurikira who however insisted that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the transaction. 

The committee said it is seeking documents from Zinwa and Grindale Engineering to establish if the ultimate winner met the legal stipulations of public procurement.

Grindale Engineering and Zinwa said they will furnish the committee with documents on 26 August.

Wadyajena is on remand facing fraud charges and it is not clear whether he will be able to chair the committee when the hearing resumes next week.

Earlier this month, Wadyajena claimed there was a plot to block him from chairing the committee and stop him from pursuing the Grindale Engineering tender.

MPs were not happy when they visited the project site where they established that only 2% of the envisaged 10% engineering works had been done.  

MPs left the Vungu Dam site in a huff during a tour in June after failing to find satisfactory answers on why the authorities settled for the contractor who had shown lack of capacity to construct the dam.

The MPs were not happy after establishing that the equipment on site which the company claimed to have bought using the over US$2 million from the government was actually hired equipment.

It emerged that the equipment was only hired just two days before the lawmakers’ visit to hoodwink them into believing that there was progress.

It was not immediately established how Grindale Engineering clinched the tender, but available information suggests the owners are linked to a senior government official.

The company insists however, that it was experienced enough and on course to complete the construction of the dam.

The dam construction was set to take 36 months and the handover to the contractor was only done in January this year.

Available information shows that 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 local community with irrigation facilities covering more than 1 200 hectares.

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