UPND Northern Province chairperson Nathan Illunga says the provincial administration has failed to explain how funds for the 2018 Northern Province Tourism and Investment Expo have been utilised.
But Northern Province Permanent Secretary Elias Kamanga described the accusations by the UPND as crazy because decisions on the awarding of contracts for projects related to last November’s Expo were not made at provincial level.
In an interview with News Diggers! Illunga alleged that speculation was growing that the provincial administration was involved in corrupt practices relating to the awarding of contracts in the road sector.
“Nobody is ready to explain, especially when it comes to the issue of money, just like it is being done at the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) where these controlling officers are failing to explain how they have used the money they have received so far. You have seen how permanent secretaries are failing to explain how they have used the money at the provincial administration. This is what is happening and people are suspecting here that there is a lot of corruption going on, especially where road construction is concerned,” Illunga said.
“There has been no explanation on how much was released by government for the Expo; how much was raised from it; how much was spent and how much remained. Even the runway at the airport, which was supposed to be almost 5 kilometres has been reduced to about 3 kilometres and the rest of the money, nobody knows where it has gone! They are saying it would be used to construct a tower, but in their initial plan, the runway was given a certain amount of money away from the tower, but we don’t know where they have taken the money.”
Illunga also argued that last year’s provincial exposition was a failure as nothing tangible had come from it.
“The Expo is a failure! We are not seeing anything tangible that we can point at and say this is as a result of the Expo, totally nothing! There is nothing successful about it. Because you see, the provincial administration should have engaged some local contractors to do certain things, local contractors were sidelined; no single local contractor was given a contract under the so-called Expo! The provincial Permanent Secretary (Kamanga) engaged contractors from the Copperbelt, and especially from Kitwe where he used to stay, so we don’t even know what fruits it will bring for us in the Northern Province,” Illunga alleged.
But Kamanga trashed all of Illunga’s claims, saying decisions on the awarding of contracts for projects related to last November’s Expo were not made at provincial level.
“That’s very crazy and that’s why I told you about records, because the records will show that probably 80 per cent of the people that took part in the activities were from the province. So, I really don’t understand on what basis he’s making those allegations. In fact, I don’t make decisions when there is a tender, people bid for these tenders and information goes to the procurement committee, which offers tenders to successful bidders. In fact, it must interest Mr Illunga to know that when the contracts were being awarded to those contractors, I was not even in the office, committee meetings were even chaired by other people other than myself, I don’t think I chaired more than one or two meetings because I was so busy organising the Expo, and most of the times, I was out of station,” Kamanga said.
He also rubbished Illunga’s assertions that last November’s Provincial Expo flopped, insisting the exhibition was a success.
“That’s lack of reasoning, really, this Expo only finished on 25th of November last year, this is only January, it’s not even 25th January and here is a person who is saying the companies haven’t opened up. Surely, what kind of thinking is that? That is a very unintelligent thinking! To set up a company or even to register it, it can’t take 30 days and to finally set up a company, can’t be done in one month, even if you are setting up a ‘kantemba.’ Now, here is a person who thinks that setting up a hydro-power station would take 30 days, here is a person who thinks that setting up a four star hotel would take 30 days, here is a person who thinks that setting up an out-grower farming block of about 250,000 hectors will take 30 days, it’s not possible!” explained Kamanga, adding that Illunga also expressed ignorance on the issue of the Kasama Airport runway as the construction of the airport was not under the provincial administration, but under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.