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Roads rehabilitation mired in controversy

The Ministry of Transport has been accused of corruption over tenders for rehabilitation of the country’s road network amid allegations that jobs are given to companies owned by relatives of senior officials.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Transport minister Joram Gumbo

Transport minister Joram Gumbo

The allegations of corruption come at a time when the department has embarked on a $100 million emergency road rehabilitation programme after most roads were destroyed by heavy rains during the 2016/17 rainfall season.

Some ministry officials are allegedly pulling strings in favour of their preferred companies to get contracts without fully following laid down procedures as provided for in the State Procurement Act.

Sources within the ministry described the situation as looting on a high scale and warned that the programme may not achieve its intended objectives.

Almost 52% of the money was used for equipment hire from close associates of influential officials, while a paltry 36% was used on road related materials, the sources alleged.

“The road rehabilitation project requires about $100 million, which is being given to the ministry of Transport to implement.

“However, they have no capacity to do that on their own. Tenders have not been advertised and companies linked to senior officials are being hired out to do the job,” said a source in the ministry.

“This is against the procurement rules as per the State Procurement Act that anything above $300 000 should go to tender.

“Work is being done now but we are worried about the quality that will be produced by these companies getting tenders not on merit but because of proximity.

“At the end of the day, such poor workmanship will come back to haunt the citizens.”

Some named ministry officials were reportedly hiring out their equipment for road maintenance.

Principal director in the ministry of Transport E Eric Gumbie who is allegedly linked to one of the companies reportedly carrying out the road rehabilitation, Tencraft, denied the allegations.

“That is not true. I have heard about those allegations but it is not true,” he said while referring further questions to the Tencraft director Fulton Chibaya.

Chibaya said although he was qualified to do the job, he was often snubbed.

“I wish I could get those contracts. I have nothing. I have never benefitted from those efforts and those making allegations should provide evidence,” he said.

“I do qualify to get those contracts and I am the only indigenous contractor with an asphalt plant which produces durable surfaces but I haven’t been contracted by government.”

According to documents seen by The Standard, disbursement for road rehabilitation so far stands at $39,8 million.

“In line with the overall requirements of $100,1 million, funding for the programme is through fiscal resources and insurance of a Zinara Road Rehabilitation Bond that will be securitised by the resources from the Road Fund,” read the document.

“Total disbursement to date amounts to $39,8 million comprising of $14,5 million from fiscal resources and $25,2 from the Road Fund.”

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