Zimbabwe highway rehab shrouded in confusion
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Director of Roads in the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Engineer Nelson Kudenga told Parliamentarians that the highway did not have the traffic levels to warrant dualisation.
He appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development on Monday.
The statements contradict those made by former Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary Mr Partson Mbiriri and Zinara chief executive officer Mr Frank Chitukutuku that the highway between Harare and Bulawayo would be dualised.
Pumula legislator Mr Albert Mhlanga (MDC-T) chaired the committee in the absence of Kwekwe Central MP Mr Blessing Chebundo (MDC-T).
"There has been confusion that we are going to dualise Plumtree-Mutare, it came out in the papers but that is not true.
"There is no traffic in the country at the moment that requires dualisation, we know the media are saying there is traffic but itâ€™s not there.
"We are only going to dualise 10km in and out of Plumtree, then 10km in and out of Bulawayo, 10km in and out of Gweru and then five kilometres in and out of Kwekwe."
Eng Kudenga said they would dualise five kilometres into Kadoma and then dualise between Kadoma and Chegutu.
After Chegutu they will dualise another five kilometres.
"We will then dualise Harare-Marondera because there is traffic, we will also dualise five kilometres after Marondera and then five kilometres into Rusape.
"We will dualise between Rusape and Nyazura because of the traffic and then 10 kilometres into Mutare," Eng Kudenga said.
He said the $206 million Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) loan facility was only meant for rehabilitation.
The Infralink project, he added, was also there to widen the highway to 10 metres where there were seven metres.
Legislators expressed dismay at the conflicting statements from the authorities.
"It is unfortunate that we continue to get conflicting statements from you (Department of Roads), Zinara and former permanent secretary Mr Mbiriri on what is happening to the Plumtree-Mutare highway," queried Zanu-PF MP for Hurungwe North Cde Peter Chanetsa.
"We had Chitukutuku telling us that negotiations for the dualisation with DBSA were at an advanced stage and now you are telling us that there is no dualisation, now we donâ€™t know who to trust."
Legislators asked why Treasury was supposed to pay for dualisation between Jaggers and the Goromonzi turnoff.
The dualisation is done by companies that did the Harare-Skyline and Harare-Norton dualisation.
The project will cost $29 million.
MPs said there was no need for Treasury to pay an extra $29 million when the project was being done on the Infralink project.
They said this created opportunities for corruption because the $29 million was supposed to be deducted from the DBSA facility.
Meanwhile, the committee also queried local authoritiesâ€™ tendencies to breach tender procedures when hiring companies for road construction.
Legislators accused Umguza Rural District Council officials of awarding a tender to a shelf company owned by Twalumba Holdings to construct Ilitshe Road.
Umguza chief executive officer Mr Collen Moyo acknowledged the mistake.
The council paid $800 000 to Notify (Pvt) Ltd though the company did not build the road.
The tender was worth $1,6 million.
It also emerged that Notify (Pvt) Ltd had been awarded the tender despite charging more than the other two bidders.
"We discovered they (Notify) were affiliated to Twalumba Holdings because they share the same office.
"They mobilised locals to clear the roads and when we saw them failing to pay the locals for their service, we then knew they did not have the capacity.
"Their equipment is dumped and very new. We are trying to phone them but they are not answering their calls and we have written to them on several occasions but they are not responding," Mr Moyo said.
However, Chiredzi South MP Cde Ailess Baloyi (Zanu-PF) said Mr Moyo was supposed to do due diligence on Notify (Pvt) Ltd and advise council before awarding the tender.
Mr Moyo claimed that the councillors awarded the tender to Notify (Pvt) Ltd in line with the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive.
The MPs also asked Gutu Rural District Council former acting chief executive Mr Alexander Mutembwa why his council awarded a contract for the construction of a road to Fremus Enterprises without going to tender.
They also accused Mr Mutembwa and the council chairperson of receiving bribes from Fremus Enterprises in the form of vehicles.
Mr Mutembwa said Fremus had only donated a truck to the council.
He said Local Government, Urban and Rural Development Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo reprimanded the council chairman and works committee chairperson for awarding the tender without following tender procedures.
The tender was worth more than $1,6 million.
The legislators also quizzed Zibagwe Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Farai Machaya why his council awarded a tender to Turncraft (Pvt) Ltd.
It also emerged that Zibagwe RDC flighted tenders for the supply of a grader and not road construction.
Mr Machaya produced a tender advert for the supply of a grader arguing that the advert was in line with the procurement provisions.
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