Bank of Zambia assistant director communications Kanguya Mayondi has insisted that the rehabilitation works done at the Mukuyu Tree National Heritage site amount to K370,000, explaining that the facelift involved; repairing the fence, installing solar flood light lamps, paving walk ways, constructing benches, among other things.

And Mayondi says the only reason why there’s a public outcry on the amount involved is that people haven’t been to the site to appreciate the works.

And BoZ assistant director for maintenance Raphael Phiri has disclosed Lusaka based company, SIKA contractors, was contracted to conduct the works.

However, some Kabwe residents spoken to protested, saying the K370,000 spent on the site was not reflected by the works done.

The Mukuyu Tree, also known as The Big Tree, is an usually large fig tree with a 50 metre wide canopy situated in the center of Kabwe, and it is also one of the main features on the K50 banknote since 2002.

Speaking during a media tour of the site in Kabwe, Thursday, Mayondi noted that the place looked clean.

He hoped that the place would be a tourist attraction and that children would be able to learn more about the place.

Mayondi highlighted some of the works done at the site.

“When you look at the fencing that was done, it actually had to be redone. Because it was badly vandalised. So what you are seeing now is what was redone. All the paving, right through, were redone. From the cement paving, to the blocked paving. What was here then, were electrical lampposts, but then we have changed all that and placed solar lampposts so that at night there’s light,” he said.

Asked who the contractor was and the criteria they used to pick that contractor, Mayondi said a Lusaka-based contractor was selected to carry out the works at K370,000.

He said the tendering process was transparent and competitive as Kabwe contractors were also given an opportunity to bid.

“In terms of contractual basis and how it was done, all that is done in accordance with the requirements of ZPPA. Nothing that the Bank of Zambia procures is ever done without it having to go through ZPPA for permission and authority. We asked to try and see if there was anybody from here in Kabwe who was able to do the works, it was very open and equally competitive. There was a contractor that came from Lusaka and he’s the one that did this at that price,” he said.

Asked whether Bank of Zambia was happy with the works done, Mayondi said “the amount of money is really not a point of discussion and yes, we are [happy]. If we are going to sit here and start concentrating on amounts, we won’t get anywhere. And we would like to get somewhere. We have brought you here so that you can have a look at it (the site) and take your images. The reason why there’s a public outcry is because you guys and as well as the people or public, haven’t been here to actually appreciate what was done. That’s why we brought you here.”

And Phiri disclosed that SIKA contractor did the works.

“Wholly Zambian owned. It was tendered,” said Phiri.

Meanwhile, National Heritage Conservation Commission director Northern Region Kagosi Mwamulowe said putting pavements the best option because it would have been difficult to maintain the place if they had planted vegetation.

Mwamulowe, who is also immediate past Regional Director for East Central Region, added that the issue of the root system was not a problem.

“For us to come up with this, this was about the best. I’m saying so because we have had challenges at some heritage sites in terms of maintenance. If we were to plant vegetation here, the maintenance aspect was going to be a problem. This was amongst the best options that we came up with,” said Mwamulowe.

However, some Kabwe residents said the amount of money did not reflect the works done.

“Munshi ya Chi muti mulemoneka fye ifiko. K370,000, yabufi. Shilya shamutumba. Impiya na shifulya, nesho babonfeshe nashi chepa. (There’s even dirt under the tree. The K370,000, is not correct. They’ve pocketed it. They have only used a little money,” said some of the Kabwe residents spoken to.