Takunda Maodza Assistant News Editor
CONTROVERSY dogs the $144 million deal for the rehabilitation of City of Harare’s Morton Jaffray Water Works by the Chinese after council roped in an Indian company to do exactly the same job, The Herald can reveal.
Council argues the scope of work differs but developments on the ground point to the contrary.
Rehabilitation of the waterworks was accorded a national project status.
The project was given to China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) on June 27, 2013.
The scope of the project given to CMEC included rehabilitation, replacement, installation and commissioning of some equipment and materials at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant, Crowborough and Firle Sewage Water Treatment, Alex Park Pump Station, New Alex Park Pump Station, Letombo and Warren Control Booster Pump Station and Borrowdale Brooke Pump Station.
It also included construction of warehouses, weigh bridge, substation and switch room at Morton Jaffray.
The CMEC contract further entailed refurbishment of pump houses, central control room, main entrance and its road, boundary wall, guard room, and control rooms at Warren Park pump station, among other civil works.
The Herald understands that council roped in an Indian company, Technofab, to also work on Morton Jaffray.
They are precisely doing the same job as CMEC yet the $144 million Chinese deal covered the repair of the whole water works and even extended to areas beyond Morton Jaffray.
The Technofab deal is worth $9,5 million and is funded by the African Development Bank under Zimfund.
It is not clear why the two companies are doing the same job.
Sources said there was lack of coherence between the two companies affecting progress.
Of the 14 water pumps at Morton Jaffray, CMEC has been directed to repair seven while Technofab works on the remainder. Council on Monday confirmed they were two companies at Morton Jaffray but defended the move saying they had distinct roles.
“We have always had two contractors at Morton Jaffray, Technofab (India) and CMEC (China). The scope of works is different but interlinked,” said council acting communication manager Mr Michael Chideme.
He added: “Technofab is doing work under Zimfund Phase 1 funded to the tune of $9,5 million for Morton Jaffray, Crowborough and Firle wastewater plants while the Chinese loan is doing the bulk of the works at MJ.”
Mr Chideme said the Zimfund funding was a grant awarded to council at “the same time council was pursuing the Chinese loan hence the present arrangement”.
“We took great care to make sure there was no duplication,” said Mr Chideme. He said of the $144 million Chinese loan for MJ, only $53 million was for the waterworks.
“Under the $144 million facility only $53 million is for Morton Jaffray while the other funding is spread at other water and wastewater plants. The $53 million is not enough to cover for the overall works at MJ. Council is also investing own resources to rehabilitate the filters and the Darwendale line that brings raw water from the Darwendale Dam.”
Mr Chideme did not explain why out of the $144 million, only $53 million was earmarked for MJ when council knew the figure was insufficient.
CMEC deputy project manager Mr Zhang Xin confirmed an Indian company was also working on MJ.
“There are two teams at Morton Jaffray, it is not only CMEC. There is an Indian company which has installed three pumps,” said Mr Zhang.
He raised concern over the failure by council to pay CMEC for the work done so far saying it was affecting progress at MJ. “CMEC has only received $72 million and they have not received the amounts as per contract which makes them un- able to carry out the rest of the work even from now,” said Mr Zhang.
He said CMEC will make efforts to “finish the current work at MJ but also CMEC needs the owner of the project (City of Harare) to make their decision and give indication to CMEC on how we should proceed”.
On this, Mr Chideme said council was waiting for the China EximBank, which is funding the project, to release the funds to enable it to pay CMEC.
“Funds for the project are released from the China EximBank. An initial amount of $72 million was released and we now await the release of the second tranche,” he said.