Chiredzi residents, council lock horns over poor roads

Source: Chiredzi residents, council lock horns over poor roads | Newsday (News)

BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

CHIREDZI residents are up in arms with their council over road construction companies that are doing sub-standard work after clinching multi-million-dollar tenders under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).

This was after three companies namely — Ngomla Investments, Trade Code (Pvt) Ltd and a Masvingo-based company, Absalom Investments — were awarded a US$400 million ERRP fund tender by Chiredzi Town Council to repair roads and drainage systems.

Of the three companies, Ngomla Investment, which is repairing roads, has been hailed for doing a good job, while the work by Trade Code and Absalom Investment is said to be of poor quality in both the materials used and workmanship. Trade Code and Absalom Investment are working on the drainage system.

Absalom only delivered a small pile of concrete stones and disappeared, while Trade Code’s work has been described as below standard. The company is also accused of leaving rubble strewn all over for over a month, making the roads impassable.

Disgruntled residents are planning to submit their grievances to provincial engineers who will visit Chiredzi today to assess work done so far.

Council chairperson Gibson Hwende refused to comment on the matter saying as councillors they were not directly involved.

“I cannot comment on the issue because as councillors we are not directly involved. The programme is being implemented at central government level and is being monitored by the provincial engineers,” Hwende said.

Town engineer Wesley Kauma said council procurement and the tender committees were responsible for selection of companies.  He said he only supervised the companies.

“This new programme does not allow technical people to be involved in the tender adjudication process. I don’t even know how the companies were awarded the tenders.

“I, however, feel that the companies are trying their best. If the provincial engineers say they should make improvements on their work, it’s obvious they will follow the recommendations. As for the Masvingo-based company, I am not sure why Absalom is yet to begin its work,” Kauma said.

Town secretary Charles Muchatukwa was not reachable for comment.

United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association advocacy officer Constance Chikumbo said if resources were availed, the companies should complement government efforts to improve infrastructure by doing a perfect job.

“As an association, we advocate for local companies to be considered first, but if they are doing substandard work, we will be left with no choice but to support anyone who can deliver regardless of where the company is based.

“Council and central government money has been wasted over the years on the same projects because as residents we are celebrating mediocrity. Tenders should be awarded to companies that have the capacity,” Chikumbo said.

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