Home » Governance » Water Deal Raises a Stink, Says Mayor

HARARE mayor councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has admitted that a US$144 million deal to refurbish water and sewerage reticulation systems could have been grossly over-priced since the selection of a Chinese company to carry out the project was not put to public tender. Some components were priced five times over their market value.

Giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing in Harare on Tuesday, Clr Manyenyeni said the deal equated to mortgaging residents.

An expose by The Herald earlier this year showed that costing of the US$144 million project could have been over-priced by around US$100 million.

This came out in a report by a World Bank-appointed consultant engineer Peter Morris.

The city entered into a US$144,4 million loan agreement with the Export and Import Bank of China for China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation to refurbish Harare’s water and related infrastructure.

The project covered Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward water treatment plants, and Firle and Crowborough sewage treatment plants.

Harare town clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi and former mayor Muchadeyi Masunda signed the deal with China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation general manager Mr Yang Yinan in 2010.

“On the issue of the Chinese project, we are seized with understanding how the costing was arrived at. One of the key issues that is concerning your committee is that this awarding was not due to a tender process.

“Certain processes that are normally acquitted in a tender process were not at play. We do not know who else within or without our borders could have offered the refurbishments over what period and at what cost and with what guarantees and assurances.

“It goes back to the question whether we are not mortgaging the city and the residents to overdue commitments which could have been scaled down.

“The costs are definitely questionable. In a number of areas some have been itemised and some have not been itemised,” Clr Manyenyeni said.

Eng Morris noted multi-million- dollar anomalies in the deal.

He cited the cost of two boats pegged at US$91 393 each yet a local firm could supply similar boats for a combined US$40 000.

Another discrepancy was that 14 DN300 gate valves with extension spindle cost US$90 241 – including installation cost – although Gweru City Council had bought similar valves for about US$1 000 each. This means the 14 valves could have been bought at around US$14 000 instead of US$90 241.

Mr Morris’ report also showed that two 5,5kW Alum transfer pumps were bought for US$113 562 and yet these could be purchased for just US$7 548.

Two Alum 1,5kW dosing pumps were valued at US$63 678 and yet these were available for a combined US$4 400.

The city council agreed to pay US$1 227 734 for a powdered activated carbon dosing system that could have been done for US$84 888.

Four 40kgh chlorinators were valued at US$264 627 when the same components could be sourced for just under US$100 000.

Mr Morris questioned how over US$500 000 could be spent on electrical cables, pipes and fittings without any costing justification.

A breakdown of the US$144,4 million loan shows that US$55,4 million would go to equipment, US$7,02 million for accessories, US$12,4 million for freight and insurance, US$45,9 million for construction, US$10,6 million for technical service, design and management and US$8,4 million for local taxescharges.

Another US$3,7 million was for clearing feescharges and handling, and US$718 537 for construction and erection insurance.

City officials have tried to claim nothing had been purchased as of early this year.

Howewer, the same officials have on different occasions confirmed that some of the equipment was already in the country while some was on its way.

Municipal managers, on at least two occasions, told The Herald they had bought equipment and some of it was already in the country.

The municipality also subsequently claimed that equipment brought into the country belonged to the contractor, China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation.

Meanwhile, mayor Manyenyeni slammed council management saying it was failing to justify its existence.

“We are talking of a business that brings in US$12 million to US$14 million per month. To me that requires a certain calibre of leadership which we must pay for and secondly the performance of the business, how is council performing financially? That is where all our managers score weakest because there is no way you can justify being in that job when the service is not getting through,” he told MPs.

On Dr Mahachi’s performance, he said: “He is experienced, he is qualified but something is just not happening at the pace and the quality that the city requires.”

He said Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo’s decision to reverse Dr Mahachi’s suspension for failing to furnish councillors with the management salary schedule was regrettable.

“The directives were unwarranted. I was clear on what the law allowed me to do and the procedures I followed. I was on very g ground and I have nothing to regret,” he said.

Ward 27 councillor Herbert Gomba told the portfolio committee that council was failing to collect revenue at Mbare Musika due to activities by one of its employees, Mr Jim Kunaka, and would soon take disciplinary measures.

Cllr Gomba said a company contracted to construct boom gates at Mbare Musika and install a computerised system to improve revenue collection had failed to do so because Mr Kunaka had mobilised residents to resist the move.

Source : The Herald