Zvamaida Murwira in Mudzi
Government has addressed financial bottlenecks that have caused a delay in making payment to a Chinese contractor carrying out broadcasting digitalisation, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary, Mr George Charamba has said. Speaking after touring broadcasting digitalisation sites in Kotwa and Mutoko in Mashonaland East yesterday Mr Charamba said the delay would not only cost the country demurrage charges as suppliers would levy for storage but would also affect implementation time frame of the digitalisation project.
“We had a slight hitch in respect of payments to the contractor. It had nothing to do with shortage of resources but it had to do with certain preliminary corporate expectations,” said Mr Charamba.
He said the agreement tied his ministry, NetOne and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Mr Charamba said there was a delay by the board of NetOne to familiarise itself and appreciate the financial arrangement.
NetOne, he said, had since made a resolution committing itself and the central bank now had necessary documents that would enable it to disburse payments to Huawei, the Chinese contractor.
“The impact of that delay is that we have lost out on implementation schedule.
“We have lots of equipment that should have been shipped from China and other supplying countries to Zimbabwe. That equipment is building up and when it does that, it creates demurrage charges,” he said.
The equipment, he said, was specifically made for a customer hence the contractor was facing problems with suppliers.
“But I am now assured by the RBZ that payment will be resumed shortly and we will pick up pace and make for lost time,” he said.
Mr Charamba expressed satisfaction with civil works that were being carried out on sites.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive Engineer Obert Muganyura said they had identified new sites for 24 transmitters that ought to be installed.
He said civil works to have access roads were at different levels of completion.
“So far 11 sites have been completed, four are almost complete in respect of the civil works,” he said, adding that access roads remained a challenge to existing sites.
Engineers would be going to China next week to inspect towers before they are shipped.
He said they hoped to complete the whole process in March next year.