The Auditor General says it is regrettable that government is being made to pay contractors more money on road projects because of delayed advanced payments.

This came to light when a team of parliamentary Public Accounts Committee inspected the Chipata-Chadiza-Katete road where works have been halted due to non payment of an advance sum to the contractor.

“According to the report on the audit of road projects under the RDA from 2012 to 2015, over K50 million was being charged as interest on the unsettled interim payment certificates (IPCs) on the Chipata-Chadiza-Katete Road,” said Ellen Chikale, Head of Corporate Communications at the Auditor General’s office.

And Acting PAC chairman, Cornelius Mweetwa observed that charging of standing time charges would result into government spending more than what would initially be required.

“Government is losing colossal sums of money through standing time charges. This was the consequence of not paying contractors on time. Works have stalled on the Chipata-Chadiza-Katete Road and the contractor is charging for standing time from January 7 2015 to date,” Chikale quoted Mweetwa as saying.

“The knock on effect is that tax payers are paying for the standing time charges over and above the principal contract sum. Government must only sign contracts where they are sure that they will pay the contractors on time,” Mweetwa said.

Committee member Kapembwa Simbao wondered if all the parked equipment the contractor was charging for standing time were actually working.

“We are concerned that government may be paying standing time charges on equipment that was obsolete and not working. There is an urgent need to make a thorough assessment of what government must actually be paying for,” he said.

“And Chadiza DC George Phiri emphasised the need for proper planning adding that had the project been properly planned such that resources are put on one stretch of the contract rather than spread on all the four stretches in different directions meaningful progress would have been made.