Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela says a number of local contractors have failed to do quality works despite government’s efforts to build capacity among them. 

Speaking when he featured on Radio Inchengelo’s Insaka programme in Kitwe, Thursday, Chitotela revealed that Buildcon, a local contractor engaged to do a 40 km stretch between Chingola-Solwezi road had failed to complete the works on schedule.

“We have tried to build capacity among local contractors, for example we had engaged a local contractor to do a pedicle road and also to do a toll gate at Gunnerton, also a 40 km on the Chingola Solwezi road which has a total of 200 km. We gave 40 km lot-1 to a local contractor and almost 200 km lot 2 to a Chinese contractor. A Chinese contractor had lot-2 and lot-3. You have seen that in almost 200 km, we gave 40 km to a local contractor so that they can also have something to do. But the one who has over 160 km has finished the works and the one with a 40 km is still remaining with a 6 km,” Chitotela said.

He said funds for the said works were already sitting in the bank awaiting the contractor to finish the project. 

“I want Zambians to listen properly. It is not that there is no money. The funds for the Chingola- Solwezi road is there seated in the account waiting for the contractor. In construction, we say interim certificate and that you only get it when you take it there and say this is the work I have done. The funding is there and the contractor with 40 km still wants us to extend the completion deadline for him, Buildcon. The Chinese who had over 160 km has finished the works on his stretch. And as government we don’t select to say this invoice has come from a Chinese contractor or a local contractor no. Ask them if government t is owing them anything? And the same the Buildcon was the first one to mobilize on site before the Chinese contractor mobilised himself,” Chitotela said.

 “If you see the pedicle road, it’s a 70 km and we started it in 2012 until today, it has not finished. I’m not laughing at them but I’m just encouraging them to be more serious when doing work because local contractors are the ones who are supposed to inspire others. What is causing the high cost of doing business in Zambia is taking too long in completing projects and I have been telling these contractors that you’re not only punishing government but the cost also keeps increasing when you take too long to finish the works. So when we do work fast without compromising quality Zambians will have confidence in us.”

And the minister wished that Zambia could one day have people with Aliko Dangote’s mindset. 

“Sometimes I just wonder why can’t we just have a Zambian who thinks like Dangote…so that in future we can have Zambians who can own hotels, Zambians who can get all road contracts from RDA, Zambians who can have their own banks. And you have seen we are mending roads and we are still putting up more toll gates. They are giving us means of rehabilitating and constructing roads and we are also employing Zambians on permanent basis in these toll gates. Government is also getting money to pay contractors who are working on these roads from the toll gates. Other countries are admiring us,” said Chitotela.