Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
Harare municipal officials have on different occasions confirmed that equipment for the US$144,4 million loan deal for rehabilitation of the city’s water and sewerage works have already been bought, contrary to repeated claims this week that they were still to purchase anything. The denial by the city on Wednesday, and in adverts it is now flighting in the local media, follow revelations by The Herald that an assessment of the deal shows equipment prices were inflated to the tune of up to US$100 million.
Purchase of the equipment under inflated prices with an Export and Import Bank of China loan and through a Chinese contractor has seen city officials trying to deny a scam is in the offing.
The city says no equipment has been bought, but municipal managers have on at least two occasions told this paper that they had bought equipment and some of it was already in the country. Ref http://www.herald.co.zw/water-gear-this-month/ and http://www.herald.co.zw/city-water-woes-set-to-ease/
Yesterday, the municipality went a step further and claimed that the equipment brought into the country belonged to the contractor, China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation, as the “contractor’s tools of trade”.
“What was reported by town clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi (last year) was with reference to the contractor’s equipment.
“That equipment forms the contractor’s tools of the trade.
“The costs are not borne out of the loan extended to the city.
“The figure of US$144,4 million you are referring to is the cost of the project.
“The actual amount that was signed for between China Exim Bank and the Government of Zimbabwe is US$141 346 392.15,” the city said yesterday.
But Dr Mahachi is on record saying project equipment bought by the city through the loan started arriving from China last year.
“Some of the containers with project equipment have already arrived as we speak and some of the equipment is on its way to Harare after having been cleared at the border.”
And in October 2013, Harare Water director Engineer Christopher Zvobgo also said equipment had already been bought.
“We expect construction equipment such as excavators to arrive at the end of this month (October 2013),” he said.
“The other equipment might take some time as they are being manufactured according to our specifications,” he said.