The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has confronted the Municipality of Chinhoyi following the latter’s decision to rescind a sewer overhaul tender it had earlier awarded a local company, Destiny Ventures.
The council’s seven-member procurement board was divided over the awarding of the $2,9 million tender for the urgent rehabilitation of the town’s ageing sewer system, amid accusations and counter-accusations of bribe-taking among councillors (Cllr).
On Friday, the militant AAG Mashonaland West executive descended on Town House demanding an audience with management over the withdrawal of the tender.
The body reportedly met with acting town engineer Timothy Maregere who said council was going against “prudent reasoning offered by management” to go ahead and give Destiny Ventures the green light to carry out the sewer system overhaul.
Said AAG’s regional president Clifford Hlupeko:
“This is an unfair practice. The councillors sitting on the procurement board are evidently being driven by malice bordering on corruption. Since council has gone ahead to re-flight the tender in the Press, we are going to do everything in our capacity to thwart the retendering process.”
AAG said it would call for an urgent meeting with Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo over the matter, alleging councillors sitting on the board were promised $5 000 each by a named company if it won the tender this time around.
Council consultants, Brian Colquhoun Hugh O’Donnel Partners, recommended Destiny Ventures and Johnson’s Designs and Installations (JDI).
Cllr Owen Charuza alleged poor workmanship of the two firms in previous contracts with a named non-governmental organisation, which carried out rehabilitation of Chinhoyi’s water reticulation system in 2010. Destiny Ventures and JDI were shortlisted to undertake civil/mechanical and civil works respectively.
Four out of the seven councillors voted for, while three cast their votes against reflighting the tender after it emerged the two shortlisted firms were “dubious”.
Minutes of the heated meeting held recently indicate Cllr Owen Charuza raised concern over the capacity of the two shortlisted bidders. Cllr Chipo Mlotshwa reportedly backed Charuza saying the two companies be rejected, proposing enlisting the services of other potential bidders who had failed to meet the September 12 cut-off date to submit completed tender documents.
However, acting town clerk Abel Gotora shot down the proposal, charging this was unprocedural. Cllr Tendai Musonza urged the board to adopt the consultant’s recommendations and urgently appoint a contractor than stall the project.
He said delaying the start of the project was tantamount to denying residents their right to health and sanitation.
In an interview last week, mayor Claudius Nyamhondoro told NewsDay: “The tender for the sewer rehabilitation has not been awarded to the two said firms on complaints that in their previous contracts they did a shoddy job and took longer than expected to complete work. We have no choice but to re-advertise the tender.”
The $2, 9 million project funds administered by the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe were disbursed by the Local Government ministry under the Public Sector Investment Programme 2011 tranche.