CHAMBESHI WATER STRUGGLES TO JUSTIFY WHY A K27 MILLION CONTRACT AWARDED TO KATOTOBWE WAS INCREASED TO K161 MILLION
Chambeshi WSC struggles to justify why a K27 million contract awarded to Tomorrow Investment Ltd was revised to K161 million
CHAMBESHI Water and Sewerage Company Managing Director Luckson Simumba yesterday struggled to explain how a contract awarded to Chanda Katotobwe’Tomorrow Investment Limited to rehabilitate water supply and sanitation systems in Kaputa District at a contract sum of K27,648,979 was revised to K161,284,108.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) later heard that K137,235,259 has been paid to the contractor out of K161,284,108, while K24,048,848.52 million is the current balance.
But Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation Director for the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation Oswell Katoka has admitted that there was a weakness in the initial detailing of the contract.
On May 6, 2013, Chambeshi Water and Sewerage Company, on behalf of ministry of local government and housing awarded a contract to Tomorrow Investment Limited for the rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation systems in Kaputa District in Northern Province at a contract sum of K27,648,979, which was later revised to K161,284,108, with a revised completion date of July 30, 2021.
Appearing before the PAC Tuesday, Simumba said there was no design done before the works started.
“According to the normal practice, a design has to be done first so that we understand the physical investigations within the project site in terms of implementation. You need to take all precautionary measures in the tender documents. But in this case, there was no design before the works started. So what we had was a provisional amount of K27.6 million,” he said.
“In this case, the consultant was working with that provisional amount to design what was stated in the initial scope of works. They designed according to what was provided in the contract. The change in the amount was as a result of the change in the water source from Choma river to Mwawe river as a distance of 13 kilometers. So at that site, we needed to construct a new treatment plant and intake works.”
But Chadiza PF member of parliament Jonathan Daka asked the witness to tell the committee what justified the increase in the cost of the contract without considering other contractors.
“This committee would want to appreciate the variation. Failure to which, we will find it very difficult to understand the justification on how you decided to add K77 million to a contract which was at K27 million. Can you prove to this committee that you compared to other water sources in the costs? You need to put facts on the table,” he said.
“Who was supervising these works on your behalf? How was the structure of the project? We are able to see that the client was not present in this supervision. You do not come here to refuse facts. This committee would want an interactive way of doing business. If there is a gap you basically say there is a lacuna.”
Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation Director for the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation Oswell Katoka admitted that there was a weakness in the initial detailing of the contract.
“The only weakness we have observed in this is that the initial scope was already defined by the client which is Chambeshi Water. So the contractor and the consultant responded to what was defined. So I believe that is where the weakness was. The scope was not in detail and there was a detailed investigation done. That is where the weakness was and we have acknowledged that,” he said.
Meanwhile, committee chairperson Warren Mwambazi urged the controlling officer to ensure supervision for all contacts in order to avoid wastage of public resources.
“We want you as a Ministry to take responsibility because we are dealing with public resources and funds for the Zambian people. Our role as members of parliament in this committee is to ensure that there is prudential management of public resources by officers conferred with such responsibilities.
We will take a position as a committee that if these variations are not supposed to be done the way they were done, there was a lot of negligence and lack of supervision on the utility company by the Ministry. Moving forward, we want to make sure that such things do not happen,” said Mwambazi.