Government has terminated the K80 billion road contract awarded to local politician, Ben Mwila, for the construction of the Landless Corner-Mumbwa Road.
Works Minister, Yamfwa Mukanga disclosed this in an interview in Lusaka yesterday, saying that Government was “very serious about correcting all irregular transactions” and would, therefore, not allow Mr Mwila’s company, Wade Adams Piling to do any more work on the 65-kilometre stretch.
Road Development Agency (RDA) head of public relations, Loyce Saili, also confirmed the termination of the contract in a separate interview.
An on-the-spot check revealed that Mr Mwila’s firm had since demobilised, only leaving a female guard, Beatrice Shamasowa, on site.
The contract was signed on December 3, 2010 and Mr Mwila’s firm was advanced K11.5 billion with a performance bond of about K8 billion.
Ms Saili said RDA had since instituted procedures to recover the money paid to Mr Mwila.
“Yes I can confirm that apart from the K11.5 billion, RDA also provided K8 billion as performance bond for insurance. We have written both the bank and the insurance which guaranteed the money and the company seeking a quick recovery of the whole amount of money,” Ms Saili said.
The contract awarded to Mr Mwila, who is National Democratic Focus president, provided for the upgrading of the gravel road to bituminous standards.
Wade Adams has only done 11 per cent of the work, which forced the Government, through RDA, to terminate the contract.
The contract was divided into two, with China Hainan being awarded the upgrading of K50 kilometres of the stretch on the Mumbwa side.
China Hainan has performed to expectations with 40 kilometres so far tarred.
The minister disclosed that the Government had been undertaking a comprehensive review of all road contracts and had discovered that Mr Mwila’s company did not have equipment although he had indicated in the bid documents that his firm was well-equipped to handle the project.
Mr Mukanga said the Government hoped to recover money from all suspicious contracts and embark on proper road maintenance for the benefit of the growth of the Zambian economy.
He said the review of the contracts involved, among other benchmarks, checking what specifications the contractors were given and whether these had been met.
He said the Government could still terminate a contract for underperformance even if it was awarded with all the correct procedures having been followed.
Mr Mukanga further disclosed that there were some contractors who initially promised to work within the amounts they had quoted but had later on submitted fresh proposals seeking additional funding in order to complete the same works.
He said credible contractors lost out at bidding stage because some shoddy and dubious contractors under-valued their bids so that they were competitive and could win the tenders.
“This amount to cheating, corruption is dangerous for a struggling economy like Zambia and public resources must be protected.
‘’The Government is very serious about correcting all the irregular transactions committed by the previous administration without due regard for order.
“The people of Zambia voted for the Patriotic Front to help restore order and stem abuse of public resources,” Mr Mukanga said.
The minister said contractors who had met specifications would not be stopped from completing their work and the Government did not want to victimise companies that wanted to work in accordance with procedures.
The Landless Corner-Mumbwa Road connects Mumbwa District to the Great North Road and serves as the main arterial road in the local, national and regional transportation network for motorists who want to avoid passing through Lusaka to transit to the western and northern parts of the country.
But when reached for a comment, Mr Mwila said his company performed “very well” and challenged the Times of Zambia crew to accompany him to Landless Corner to demonstrate the progress so far made.
Only five pieces of road construction equipment were seen at the offices that were being used before the firm demobilised.
The guard, Ms Shamasowa said she had not been paid her October salary and hoped management could clear her dues to enable her look after her family.
TIMES OF ZAMBIA