Payment delays rile Byo road contractors

BULAWAYO City Council

SEVERAL private firms contracted by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to rehabilitate the city’s poor road network are reportedly pulling out citing delays in payments.

This happens at a time when motorists have raised concern over the worsening state of the roads in the city since the beginning of the rain season.

According to the latest council minutes, acting director of engineering services, Sikhumbuzo Ncube, said expenditure as of November was $233 833 182 against a budget of $338 232 413,70.

“Sole supplier for asphalt concrete (premix) in the southern region of the country resulted in price escalation due to high demand for premix and delays in completing works; some suppliers required upfront payment which necessitated re-doing the procurement process as this was contrary to the provisions of the Procurement Act,” the minutes read.

“Delay by supplier(s) of bituminous materials is attributed to the delays to the immigration formalities at the border post. Lack of RTGS [Real Time Gross Settlement] fuel in the market, if it’s available the quoted price was above the Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority (Zera) stipulated prices.

“Due diligence exercise on outstanding interim payment certificates - the process was a challenge in that we were negotiating with contractors when the entire or part of the works had already been done.”

The council said there was an increase in the number of potholes due to delays in the release or disbursement of routine maintenance funds by the Local Government ministry.

 On the intergovernmental fiscal transfers 2022 allocation- devolution, the budget allocation for road works was $442 million.

 “The intention was to augment the council's earth moving equipment which was obsolete. This would enable the council to undertake and complete maintenance and capital works effectively and efficiently,” the minutes added.

“Currently private companies are charging exorbitant rates. The contracts had been awarded and sites handed over to contractors and the works commenced during the fourth week of September 2022.”

On the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme, the council noted that allocation for the year 2022 was $338 232 413,70. 

“Council was yet to receive the disbursements for the third and fourth quarters for the current year. The delay was attributed to the due diligence exercise across government institutions.”

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