BY SILAS NKALA
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has responded to residents’ demands for council to account for US$1,7 million earmarked for water projects, following allegations that a contractor engaged for the Epping Forest waterworks project had not been paid in full resulting in deferment of its implementation.
On March 15, 1 192 residents petitioned council demanding that it accounts for US$1,7 million, which was raised from a water levy.
“We understand that BCC wrote to Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) on February 10 saying the US$6 911,115,26 pipeline levy collected between 2009 and June 2018 was used at Epping Forest.
“We also understand MIHR has written three letters … asking BCC to clarify conflicting information as on June 19 2020 where engineer Simela Dube was quoted saying BCC paid US$4 013,914 for Epping Forest Lot A and US$1 174 643,58 for Lot B which adds to US$5 188 557,58, therefore, casting an unaccounted US$1 722 557,68,” the petition read.
In response, town clerk Christopher Dube said the levy was meant to augment funding to duplicate the Insiza pipeline whose budget at the time was US$26 million.
“… In 2015, council … recommended the funds be used to … drilling, equipping and linking boreholes in Epping Forest,” he said.
“Council resolved to utilise pipeline levy funds on the Epping Forest project.
“This was followed by tenders being advertised …
“Council’s procurement committee on May 24 2016 made a recommendation to award Lot A to Multiforce Contractors (Pvt) Ltd.”
Dube said this was adopted by the State Procurement Board on June 7 2016, and the procurement board recommended Lot B to be awarded to Conduit Investment (Pvt) Ltd on October 24 2016.
He said the billing of the pipeline levy only started in January 2013, the same time government re-introduced the local currency.
At that time, he said residents had paid US$6 911 115,26, part of which was used to settle bills for Lot A.
“The figures for Lot A — US$4 013 914 and Lot B, US$1 174 643,58 adding to US$5 188 557,58 are actually tender amounts.
“The actual claims…submitted by Lot A contractor were US$3 532 508,07.
“Council paid $3 308 842,39 and retained $223 665,68 as part of the contract. The cash balance at change of currency was US$3 602 272,87…
“Lot B recommended award was $1 174 643,58.
“During the 20-day objection period, an appeal was lodged at court. The court made a decision on 20 October 2017….”
Dube said after the court decision, the winning bidder deferred implementation of the project pending clarification of the scope of works with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
He said this affected the completion of Lot A, and that explains why it was not paid for in full.
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