ZESCO Limited Board Chairperson Vickson Ncube says the company opted to engage foreign firms for the supply of wooden poles because Zambian companies don’t have adequate capacity to meet the demand.

ZESCO has shortlisted 10 Zimbabwean and South African companies for the supply and delivery of 9 and 12 metre wooden poles, an act which has caused an uproar on social media.

“ZESCO Limited has set aside funds in the 2022 budget towards the cost for procurement of wooden poles for use by construction. ZESCO Limited now invites sealed bids from the following ten (10) shortlisted bidders for the supply and delivery of 9 and 12 metre wooden poles: Lomagundi Poles/IFLOMA SAR of Zimbabwe, the Wattle Company Limited of Zimbabwe, Border Timbers of Zimbabwe, Capital Timbers Pvt Ltd of Zimbabwe, Hotspeck Enterprises of Zimbabwe, R&B Timber of South Africa, Treated Timber Products of South Africa, Vuka Timbers of South Africa, Timberg Quality Timber of South Africa and Lowes Creek Treated Timber of South Africa” read an invitation for bids notice dated March 22, 2022.

And in an interview, Wednesday, Ncube explained that ZESCO had shortlisted the foreign manufacturing companies because Zambia did not have enough supply of the poles.

He added that the power utility company wanted to directly deal with manufacturers this time around.

“First and foremost we do not have enough supply of poles in Zambia, the capacity is fully exhausted. If you went to the ZAFFICO Zambia Forestry showroom, you will not find the poles because we need more poles than they have. Secondly, because we need those poles, we were to find in the neighboring countries’ companies that manufacture those. So those people you are seeing there are not just suppliers they are the actual manufacturers of those poles, so we want the manufacturers to compete. We are not just asking a person who forms a company to supply poles so that they go and source from the manufacturer, we have asked the manufacturers themselves to compete among themselves,” he said.

“I am sure we are going to get a good price without middlemen. So that is the principle on which we based that particular tender on which you are looking at. Zimbabwe and South Africa as you can see, those are our nearest neighbours who have the capacity to supply poles. And instead of dealing with people who are going to buy and sell to us, we have gone straight to those who manufacture. Let them compete among themselves to give us the best price.”

And Ncube said Zambian companies were not on the list because the company was already dealing with them and they don’t have the adequate capacity to meet the demand.

“The Zambian companies are not there because we are already dealing with them and they don’t have the adequate capacity to meet the demand. Remember we are talking about maybe now slightly below 40,000 people who paid many years ago whose construction of line is long overdue. So we are on a very fast track trying to solve all those problems of backlogs. So it’s nothing like Zambian companies have been left out. It is because those we are already dealing with them and we don’t have adequate capacity in Zambia right now to meet the demand,” said Ncube.

“We are talking about a situation that existed, we don’t want to go back and start looking at what caused it. We want an answer now so we looked at the capacity of our local producers and we don’t have capacity to meet that. We are already getting from them but we don’t have adequate capacity among them to meet the current demand for us to get up to date. So we just had to find supplementary sources. But instead of advertising saying let’s get someone to supply then they will go to Zimbabwe and South Africa, we went to the actual manufacturers of those poles in each one of those countries and we are getting them to compete among themselves to supply us with the poles.”