BCC loses thousands of dollars in opaque deals

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Bulawayo City town house

BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has reportedly lost large sums of money in shady procurement deals, where the local authority paid for non-existent services and failed to recover the money despite recommendations from the audit committee.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

In July this year, the local authority lost more than $300 000 to briefcase Harare companies in an ambulance procurement deal after paying for the supply of six ambulances.

Council claimed it was failing to locate the companies.

Latest council minutes also indicate that the local authority risks losing another $100 000 in a dodgy deal with a South African company that is now failing to supply a cremation machine.

The local authority is yet to recover nearly $100 000 from a local company, Edap Enterprises, engaged to repair its bulldozer in 2014.

BCC’s audit committee has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against engineering services director, Simela Dube, for facilitating payment of $70 870 to the company before the job was done.

Documents at hand show that council, in early 2013, floated a tender for the repair, refurbishment and commissioning of its Caterpiller bulldozer.

Four firms – Beyhan Distributors (Pvt) Ltd, Ageing Replacements, Edap Enterprises and Impact Agencies (Pvt) Ltd – submitted bids for the tender.

Edap Enterprises was awarded the tender on February 7, 2014 and a memo was sent to the company on March 4, 2014 informing it of the contract 48A/2013 for the supply of spares, refurbishment and commissioning of the bulldozer.

Edap Enterprises reportedly promised to deliver within six weeks, and a warranty of one year or 2 000 hours with a bid price of $70 870.

The company then took the bulldozer for repairs on April 9, 2014.

Investigations by council’s audit committee, however, show that the local authority “shockingly” paid $70 870 on September 5, 2014 to Khanyisile Investments, one of the partners, despite clear indications that no repairs were done.

The company only repainted components it was supposed to repair and this was exposed by the constant breakdowns from the day it was brought back after “repairs”, according to several reports of the council audit committee.

“The above observations indicate that contract 48/A2013 was not properly conducted, as required by council’s special conditions of the contract, as shown in the initial stages, where the company delivered the machine three months later, and no penalties were imposed.

“The constant breakdown of the plant also proved some serious poor workmanship by the contractor, who possibly took advantage of poor monitoring of the project by the council’s transport management team,” minutes of the audit committee meeting held on July 28, 2015 read.

According to a checklist, the company was supposed to repair the equaliser bar, left and right bearings, bushes, line boring, idlers, track carrier rollers, sprocket segments, grouser blades (both sides), dead shaft bearings and bushes seats, track master line assembly, ripper cylinder leads, hydraulic control valve leaks, tilt cylinder leaks, lift cylinder leaks, exhaust system, radiator service, transmission oil leaks, steering clutches and brakes, doors and also do an engine overhaul.

“This being supported by inspection carried out by audit and the diesel and plant filters, where it was discovered that some of the major visible items on the machine were not done while the machine was fully painted and said to be complete.

“There are still questions as to how much of the invisible items were not done, including the engine overhaul and more so in view of the fact that the old engine spares were not returned to the council workshops,” the minutes said.

The team, comprising of chairperson, Macdonald Chunga, Mzama Dube (vice-chairperson), Pilate Moyo, Reuben Matengu and Clayton Zana, agreed at the meeting that Dube should be taken to a disciplinary hearing.

On August 3, 2015, the council auditors summoned him to explain himself, and according to the minutes, he allegedly accepted blame, but no action has been taken against him since then.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Dube said: “Forward your questions to our public relations department.”

BCC spokesperson, Nesisa Mpofu had, at the time of going to print last night, not yet responded to questions e-mailed to her.

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