National Democratic Congress president Chishimba Kambwili says the Road Development Agency’s decision to single-source AVIC International for the construction of three toll gates at an initial cost of around US $12.9 million was nothing but corruption.
A News Diggers! investigation revealed that RDA single-sourced AVIC International to construct three toll gates among them, the controversial Micheal Sata Toll Plaza and the Kafulafuta Toll Plaza, which together cost around US $8.5 million.
Last week, RDA corporate affairs director Masuzyo Ndhlovu explained that the Agency single-sourced AVIC International to construct the Micheal Sata, Kafulafuta and Choma toll plazas because there was urgent need for government to start collecting toll revenue from motorists, among other reasons.
But in an interview, Kambwili questioned why the RDA decided to single-source the construction of the toll plazas when the country had a number of companies who were capable of constructing the same facilities at a cheaper cost.
“First and foremost, it is very illegal to single-source a contractor to build a toll plaza because a toll plaza is not a complicated job and there are a lot of companies that can do it. Government, to an extent, does allow for single-sourcing where one; there are very few companies that can do that job and two; when they advertise and when, maybe, one company had applied…and if that job is of a very technical nature that cannot be undertaken by anybody,” Kambwili said.
“But this case shows that there was corruption! And we can only hope that whoever was involved in that single-sourcing must be taken to task; must be arrested and prosecuted. There is nowhere that this country is going to…you know that, this time now, all the jobs is AVIC and it clearly shows that there is something hidden in these AVIC jobs,” Kambwili said.
“How can you allow AVIC to build over 12,000 houses as if it is the only contractor in Zambia? Government should have given some jobs, maybe, the Lusaka houses to one contractor, the Kitwe houses to another contractor. But in this country everything is now AVIC! AVIC!”
Kambwili called on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to investigate the controversial single-sourcing tollgate plaza saga.
“I am calling upon the ACC and the DEC to follow up these matters and see why AVIC all of a sudden…because look, every reasonable government would want to give jobs to its nationals or companies that are owned by Zambians. Because when Zambians are paid, they will keep the money within the borders of Zambia and they will use it to develop Zambia,” Kambwili said.
“But this time, what is happening is that, money is being paid to Chinese companies and then externalised. And that is why we have a problem with the exchange rate. That is one reason why the exchange rate is going up because every time the Chinese are paid in kwacha, they go and buy dollars from the markets and externalize them.”
He also urged President Edgar Lungu to establish an investigation why AVIC international was acquiring all the lucrative contractual jobs.
“So, this is a very serious matter that we should not gloss over. An investigation and an inquiry must be called over by the President to find out why AVIC is in all the jobs. Building of a toll plaza is not a complicated job,” he added.
“One toll plaza, when you get out of Kitwe was done by a Zambian company and they have done it very well. The one they call Chakulya toll gate, it was done by a Zambian company. So, there is no reason whatsoever that government can give that single-sourcing was a result of what…it was just corruption, nothing else!”
And Kambwili said the 20 per cent sub-contracting policy in the construction sector only benefited PF-affiliates.
“This 20 per cent is only given to PF cadres! If you are not a member of PF, you cannot be given that 20 per cent because the 20 per cent is politically decided. We have seen people that have never been contractors in their lives doing walk-ways! And as a result, they are compromising quality because these people are not contractors. They don’t even know…and it is surprising that even Chinese companies are bidding for the 20 per cent! Chinese companies are being given 20 per cent. So, it is all corruption! Corruption! Corruption! And that is why I laugh at PF; they think that they have a lot of support. Their support is cosmetic because people are following the jobs, but they don’t believe in them and they don’t appreciate their leadership,” said Kambwili.
“So, this 20 per cent thing is not even real, it is not meant to empower Zambian contractors and the youths; it is only meant to empower those who support the PF. It is not even followed judiciously. If you look at the Kafubu Project in Luanshya, those Chinese have dragged their feet in giving 20 per cent. So, the problem that we have in this country the President speaks, but no action is taken; Ministers speak, but no action is taken. And they cannot follow up! Nobody knows.”