TRANSPORT and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya says the speed camera contract between RTSA and IMS was terminated because the online account in which the funds were being deposited was not authorized by the Ministry of Finance.
And Kafwaya says Zambia Airways is already operational as employees are there, adding that government will soon issue an operation license so that flights can commence.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Kafwaya said the contract between the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and Intelligent Mobility Solutions (IMS) had to be suspended because of allegations of misappropriation of funds.
“There was money that was deposited in a wrong account and there was a report that some of that money could have been misappropriated. A reconciliation was made on that account and I think the Ministry of Finance should be happy with that reconciliation. And the money should have been recovered. It was an online account, which was made to make it easier for those people who were paying online. But you know, in government, we work with protocols and procedures and nobody is allowed to open an account without the authorisation of the Secretary to the Treasury. In other words, nobody can open a government account without the Ministry of Finance’s involvement. So, the wrong there was that the account was opened without the authorisation from the Ministry of Finance,” Kafwaya said.
He said a lot of people thought it as a bad contract from the onset.
“We had to transfer the contract to the Ministry of Finance because there were financing clauses in that contract. So, that could not sit with RTSA. We demanded that the contract be reviewed even by the council and feedback be given. Yes, a lot of people feel it was a bad contract [and] this is why we demanded for its review, this is why we suspended the operation because if the basis of the operation is reasonable by many standards, you have to make sure that you clarify it,” Kafwaya said.
“So, we have a very strong recommendation, which we put through to terminate the contract. But since we moved it from the Ministry of Transport and Communications or RTSA, basically, and we transferred it to the Ministry of Finance, we are waiting for our recommendation to be worked on. And it’s not us because that was a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) contract, meaning that the PPP council has to review it. But when we sat, as stakeholders, the recommendation was that we need to terminate the contract.”
And Kafwaya said preparations to launch Zambia Airways had reached a final stage as his Ministry would soon issue an operation license.
“Zambia Airways is a joint-venture between the IDC of the Republic of Zambia and Ethiopian Airlines. There is a lot of work that has happened so far. Our role, as Ministry of Transport, is to give them an Airway Operating Certificate (AOC). And that has five stages and we have covered even the fourth stage, which is the longest stage. And the test flights have already happened. Very soon, through the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), we will be able to issue that Airway Operating license. And when we issue the Airway Operating license, it’s not the end because we are not Zambia Airways. Zambia Airways will make a determination in terms of when they think it is good for them to begin the flights,” he said.
He said the fact that flights had not commenced did not mean that the airline did not exist.
“Zambia Airways is already in existence as we speak. When Zambia Airways undertook to employ those people and take them for training, they were already in existence. For the fact that Zambia Airways is not flying does not mean that the company is not there, it is there. What COVID-19 has done to Zambia Airways is exactly what COVID-19 has done to all other businesses because customers have reduced, people are being urged to stay home, so the business environment has just come down. So, COVID has not specially affected Zambia Airways, but the same way Mahogany (Airlines) has been affected, and the same way South African Airways (SAA) has been affected. So, we are talking about a situation where it is uniform everywhere,” said Kafwaya.
“Since now we are in the new normal, Zambia Airways must determine when it will launch. But the condition is that we should give them an operating license. And I can tell you that we are near to giving them an operating license because the phase four of the assessment was the longest and the most detailed and we have gone past that. We only have one last part, which is the issuance of the license.”