Zinara blasts councils over shoddy jobs

23 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Zinara blasts councils over shoddy jobs Sections of the recently-refurbished Siyephambili Drive have already developed potholes

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter

THE Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) has condemned local authorities over poor quality workmanship on some road rehabilitation projects across the country, and red-flagged overcommitting or signing of contracts that are way above resources allocated.

While the Government has intensified the drive on infrastructure development and rehabilitation of roads as key enablers to economic transformation, delays in implementation of some projects due to procurement bottlenecks at the local authority level, delays in submission of acquittals, as well as poor workmanship are major setbacks. 

Already, Zinara has unveiled $93 billion towards road rehabilitation and maintenance this year while over $30 billion was disbursed to local authorities last year, which translates to over US$80 million.

While more funding continues to be channelled towards roads, Zinara has said that poor workmanship on some projects is a major setback, as it challenged local authorities to also ensure value for money through due diligence towards quality work.

“Another area of concern noted by Zinara in 2022 was the low quality of work by some local authorities. There is a need for local authorities’ contractors to ensure sustainable quality work because the resources that Zinara have are limited compared to the work that needs to be done on our roads,” read the statement.

“Analysis of the 2022 disbursement statistical data, Zinara noted that some local authorities overcommitted and entered contracts that were way above their allocations. 

“Going forward, Zinara urges the local authorities to budget within their allocations and ensure timely acquittals of disbursed funds. This is prudentially important in terms of value preservation of their allocated funds.”

According to the latest funding disbursement report issued by Zinara yesterday, Harare Metropolitan Province received the highest funding of $1,73 billion in 2022 while Matabeleland region, which includes Bulawayo and sister provinces of Matabeleland North and South, got a combined total of $1,24 billion.

Victoria Falls received the highest amount of $120,8 million for road rehabilitation and maintenance under the urban councils category in Matabeleland North Province with Umguza Rural District Council getting the lion’s share among rural local authorities at $70,9 million with the entire province getting $422,9 million.

In Matabeleland South Province, Beitbridge Town received the highest disbursement of $107, million, buttressing the massive Beitbridge Border Post modernisation works with Matobo District receiving the highest of $60,1 million under rural councils. 

 

The province received a combined total of $550,2 million.

The road works are being implemented under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) launched by President Mnangagwa in 2021 to address the poor state of roads countrywide. 

Since then, significant progress has been made in the rehabilitation of most roads countrywide, and in the City of Bulawayo roads such as Siyephambili Drive, George Avenue, and 23rd Avenue, are some of the prime examples.

This has affected connectivity within the city, reduced travel times, reduced vehicle operating costs, and ease of logistical operations by the general motoring public.

However, stakeholders have urged the Government to do more citing the extent of deterioration of roads over the years, which has been worsened by the onset of the rainy season.

As a result, most of the city’s roads are littered with potholes, including those in the city center, and are in urgent need of attention.

As of 31 December 2022, Zinara had disbursed $30,6 billion, which translated to US$86,9 million at the inter-bank rate. The amount also covered the supplementary budget which was also approved during the course of the year. 

Going forward, Zinara says it is committed to ensuring payment of all outstanding requests for road maintenance and rehabilitation.

“Zinara is ready to pay the outstanding requests for funding within the available budget allocations for the projects that overlapped into 2023 once all the required due diligence processes with Treasury are completed,” it said.

Zinara offices

Initially, the budget for disbursements was $17 billion for last year but this was later increased to $30,6 billion to cater for exchange rate variables through a supplementary budget.

Zinara said the supplementary budget was made available to cover costs that the road authorities incurred in their existing contracts because of movement in the exchange rate and other factors.

Zinara also attributed delays in the disbursement of funds last year to the due diligence reports that were requested by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development towards the end of the year.

“The process of disbursing the funds to the local authorities in some instances took longer because of the need for road authorities to submit due diligence reports,” it said. 

“The due diligence reports were meant to confirm whether the pricing in each funding request was fair, before Zinara effects payments. This was part of the Government’s efforts to realise value for money from the contracts between the road authorities and their suppliers.”

The due diligence process saw Treasury suspending payments to contractors after it emerged that some Government departments and agencies were using pricing models based on parallel market rates. 

Treasury secretary, Mr George Guvamatanga, at that time directed all Government departments and agencies to submit due diligence reports on all contracts whose payments were suspended.

Meanwhile, Zinara says it trained all 93 local authorities last year on procurement and audit issues, contract management, and the acquittal process before disbursing the funds. – Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi

 

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