NATIONAL Council for Construction executive director Ernest Nshindano says the perception that Zambian contractors fail to deliver on projects is as a result of the poorly funded projects awarded to them in most cases.
In an interview, Wednesday, Nshindano lamented that projects which were well-funded were mostly given to foreign contractors.
“The problem is that the projects that are well funded where we have proper cash flow and available resources are being given to foreign contractors in most cases. We tend to give local contractors projects which are not properly funded or the resources are not so guaranteed and as a result some of the challenges we have noticed. It’s not that Zambians cannot perform, that is not a good narrative. We have Zambian contractors who are up to task, who can perform squarely on these projects and the National Council for Construction is very confident. However, we need to ensure that these projects that are being awarded in particular to the local contractors, ensure that funding is made available and that we support them and regard, and we will see Zambian contractors performing,” he said.
“If there are any Zambian contractors who are not performing just like any other contractor, the National Council for Construction will take action and definitely have to deregister and suspend such a contractor. In most cases we have realised that funding is poor on the project and therefore a contractor being a Zambian contractor sometimes maybe that’s a disadvantage, we do not have an alternative capital to be put in as maybe some other foreign contractors. We do take note, because maybe the cost of capital in Zambia compared to other nations could be cheaper. So, therefore, it will be very difficult for a Zambian contractor because they are tied to be able to approach the bank or access resources.”
He, however, urged local contractors to put their houses in order, and appealed for transparency in the construction industry.
“We welcome the move by the RDA and also that’s the outlook of the government. The appeal is that we need transparency in the construction industry. The National Council for Construction’s mandate is also to ensure that there is competition and fairness in the sector. So for us, we look at this as a very great step and we hope that those contractors that in the past were complaining that opportunities were not availed to them, we can see now that there is openness in terms of the available jobs, particularly for routine maintenance works for small scale and medium contractors,” said Nshindano.
“So I think it is a good thing for us and only hoping that contractors will put their houses in order. With the CDF coming we hope to see the same so that opportunities are given to all contractors. If tenders are floated, it brings opportunity, number one. Number two it helps the government also to get value for money, which the government is advocating for if you have noticed. Then there is competition because contractors are encouraged and innovative in the way they price their contracts.”