BY BRENNA MATENDERE
GWERU city fathers have rejected a deal put forward by the local authority’s management to channel over $200 000 from its coffers to pay a private company to complete rehabilitation of roads in the densely-populated suburb of Mkoba.
The councillors, led by mayor Josiah Makombe, maintained that all resources at Town House should be channelled towards solving its water crisis.
Confidential minutes of an extra-ordinary council meeting held on July 2, seen by Southern Eye, show that the city fathers flatly rejected the deal proposed by management, led by town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza.
According to a document put forward by the management, the main agenda item for the closed-door meeting was a request “for temporary advance of $217 009,13 from revenue accounts to Roads Account (Zinara a/c).”
The money was to be used to resurface Moramutambara and Swazi roads, located in Mkoba 16, while awaiting disbursement of Zinara funds that were originally earmarked for the project. Council management proposed that the funds would then be used to reimburse the amount taken from council coffers.
Part of the request document reads: “Members will recall that the City of Gweru went to tender for CE01/18: Emergency Rehabilitation of Roads in 2018. B&S Mucheken Pvt (Ltd) company was awarded a contract to rehabilitate the roads, city-wide, at a cost of US$3 222 753,60… Currently, the works that have been done are earthworks only on Moramutambara and Swazi roads, up to base 1 level, waiting for tar-surfacing.”
“The two roads have been closed since February 2019, making it difficult for the community to manoeuvre the area. B&S Mucheken raised their first payment certificate of Zimdollar $217 009,13 for works done in April 2019 and the certificate was further sent to Zinara. No payment has been made up to now, which led the contractor to suspend and abandon the site. It is recommended that the council authorises the temporal advance of $217 009,13 from council’s revenue accounts to council’s Zinara account, it being noted that the advance shall be recovered from the disbursement by Zinara at first instance,” read the request.
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However, mayor Makombe confirmed yesterday that the councillors had rejected the deal.
“We want to channel all the resources that we have for now towards the provision of water. I think people are aware that we have a water crisis in the city. The councillors felt that is our priority for now. Zinara is supposed to pay that money for the roads, so we wait until they do so and management was tasked to pursue them,” he said.
Sources said there was heated debate in the closed door meeting, with management led by engineer Robson Manatse insisting the money being requested for the roads was not enough to purchase a new water-pump, adding it would not impact on efforts to solve the water crisis. However, councillors stood their ground.
Gweru’s main water source, Gwenhoro Dam, only has supplies for the next two months and the city fathers are battling to get money to switch to Amapongogwa Dam.