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Contractor, BCC give conflicting figures on Egodini project

by Staff reporter
14 Jul 2021 at 09:24hrs | Views
THE Egodini construction project cost was overstated at US$60 million with council and the constructor now giving different figures, raising questions if the city will eventually get value for money from the initiative.

Since 2015, it has been reported that an ambitious plan to transform Basch Street Bus Terminus, popularly known as Egodini, into a multi-million regional transport hub and shopping complex would be done at an estimated cost of US$60 million. However, yesterday the company contracted to carry out the works, Terracotta Private Limited said it did not know were the US$60 million came from and put the actual cost at US$25 million.

Questions have since arisen whether Bulawayo City Council was sold a dummy after the city's chamber secretary Mrs Sikhangele Zhou said it was Terracotta that had actually submitted a US$60 million tender for the project.

The project was set to kick-start in 2016 but no tangible development has been made on site until this year when the company started civil works. Over the years, deadlines to implement the project have been missed.

The company now says the first phase of the project that was scheduled to be complete in August will now be done by October. Residents have previously claimed that council was sold a dummy on the Egodini Mall Project although the contractor claimed the delays were a result of macro-economic challenges.

Terracotta was yesterday exposed after its officials admitted that they have never intended to spend US$60 million on the project. Responding to journalists during a media online briefing on the project development, Terracotta director Mr Thulani Moyo tried to blame the media for the estimated value of the project, saying what they submitted was much lower.

"To be honest with you and totally truthful with you, this number, US$60 million, we don't know where it came from. I think it has been bandied around by the media. We are not sure who created that number of US$60 million. What we did in terms of what we were going to invest in our submission bid was to present a prepared scheme and in terms of that scheme we gave an estimate of how much that scheme would cost and that scheme was nowhere near the US$60 million that is indicated there," said Mr Moyo.

He said Terracotta estimates that the project is valued at US$25 million.

Quizzed on why the company has never made an attempt to correct alleged misinformation on the amount, Mr Moyo said it was their mistake that they have never engaged the media to clarify the issue. Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube directed his management team to iron out on the status of the project. Mrs Zhou confirmed that Terracotta had submitted a US$60 million tender, which its director was trying to disown.

"The tender that was there was for an expression of interest and we were looking at the possible developments that would be done at Egodini. The amount that was possible investments were not hardened facts but you had to make an indication what you estimate your investment to be. And indeed, the Terracotta bid document did indicate that their estimated investment at that time was US$60 million," said Mrs Zhou.

Failure to reconstruct Egodini Mall on time has contributed to congestion in the city centre as vehicles, particularly pirate kombis, pick up customers at undesignated places. This is not the first time the local authority is having problems with people it picks to do business with. In 2016, it was reported that the local authority lost over $300 000 in botched ambulance and vehicle tracking system deals to two briefcase companies from Harare.

The cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council (BCC) also stands to lose a cremator worth US$100 000 that was impounded by South African Revenue Services (Sars) nearly three years ago if the local authority does not pay R1 million - about US$71 000 - accumulated storage fees.

Residents have said council should exercise due diligence when entering into contracts with private contractors as the local authority was losing substantial amounts that can be used to improve service delivery.

Source - chronicle