via Minister admits govt incompetence – New Zimbabwe 25/11/2015
TRANSPORT deputy minister Michael Madanha has admitted government sloppiness in the supervision of road construction and maintenance in the country which often sees newly repaired roads quickly return to their previous sorry states.
Responding to questions by backbenchers in Parliament on Wednesday, Madhana cited “poor workmanship” by contracted firms in cases where roads targeted for maintenance are quick to deteriorate.
“I think it is something very visible that some sections on our roads – particularly on this road which was recently rehabilitated, that is, the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare road, some sections are showing signs of failure,” Madhana said.
“There are various reasons to this, the first one which we suspect is the major one and it has to do with lack of supervision and poor workmanship.”
He was responding to a question by fellow Zanu PF legislator, Irene Zindi, who had asked him to state government policy towards contracted companies whose maintenance failures are quick to be noticed through pothole riddled roads, less than a year after completion.
In a country with scarce financial resources, Zindi followed up, asking why government seemingly did not find it worth the while to carry out constant inspection on the said work.
Zindi also asked why the same companies put all their efforts in constructing good roads in neighbouring South Africa and yet did a shoddy job locally.
“The actual issue is poor workmanship,” Madhana responded.
“The supervision is there and the engineers are there but the problem is poor workmanship. That is the correct answer which I can give to this problem.”
He added: “Definitely as a Ministry, we have seen that something was amiss on the quality of our roads.
“So, what we are doing as a Ministry is that we are taking corrective measures so that whoever is responsible for delivering poor quality work must account for his actions at his cost. That is the solution to this problem.”
However, Madanha’s response only served to ignite more questions by legislators on why government was seemingly unperturbed by poor services from tender holders on road maintenance.
Bulawayo Easy MP Thabitha Khumalo asked why government failed to employ Zimbabwean engineers from local universities to provide expert supervisory work.
Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami weighed in, telling the minister some of the roads are already bumpy and experience melting tar with only two weeks of the maintenance.
MPs not satisfied
“Are you telling me that when this poor workmanship was in progress you were not aware that this was going on?” he asked.
Binga North MP Dubeko Sibanda asked the evidently besieged minister to disclose “at what point in your Ministry’s hierarchy, supervision could be lacking?”
“Maybe there was a misunderstanding of some sort,” said Madanha.
“I did not say that there is lack of supervision in the Ministry but I said that it is one of the causes …one of the causes of poor workmanship is lack of supervision, which is correct.
“Now, the Ministry does its supervision through the Department of State Roads and this department is the one responsible for all the supervision and any defect which is a result of construction by the constructor is supposed to be rectified by the contractor at his cost.
“The Ministry will not foot any bill for the rectification of those works.”
The country’s road infrastructure remains in a poor state despite millions paid to government through toll fees being administered by Zinara.
The situation is blamed for the continued loss of lives every year with massive looting by government and Zinara officials from the road maintenance coffers has also been cited among the causes.