SPEAKER of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti has directed Local Government and Rural Development Minister Gary Nkombo to issue a comprehensive ministerial statement on the current status and the procurement of 42 fire trucks which were bought for US$42 million.
Speaker Mutti made this directive after Nkombo gave some interesting, but brief, responses to questions regarding the questionable procurement.
Responding to a question from Mufumbwe member of parliament Elliot Kamondo, who wanted to find out the current status of the fire trucks in Parliament, Tuesday, Nkombo said seven of the trucks had been involved in accidents but of these, only two would be compensated by insurance.
“42 fire tenders were procured between 2015 and 2021 and this was in the year 2017. The total cost of fire tenders was $42 million with each one of them costing $1 million. The fire tenders were insured at a cost of K230,000 each which represents 2.3% of the premium value of each fire tender. As at the end of December 2021, 35 of them were operational,” Nkombo said.
“I may have lapsed in anticipating that question about the 7 fire tenders. The majority of the seven were involved in road traffic accidents. I have answers for two of the fire tenders which are being compensated by Zambia State Insurance Corporation. The corporation is indemnifying the Ministry because the claim was successful. For those two, they met the benchmark for qualifying for indemnity.”
Meanwhile, Bwengwa UPND member of Parliament Kasauta Michelo and his counterpart Mweemba Malambo wanted to find out whether government had taken interest in investigating the alleged exaggerated cost of the fire tenders.
And in response, Nkombo said he would, without any sweat, find out from the Anti-Corruption Commission in order to get an update on their investigations.
“I wish to state that I am aware that some sort of investigation occurred on the procurement of these fire tenders whose details of conclusion I do not have. However, if the member is interested, I could without any sweat find out from the Anti-Corruption Commission to give us the exact status of the question. I am aware that the procurement of these fire tenders went through the Zambia public procurement process,” said Nkombo.
“I do not have the details right on my finger tips. If it is the desire of the member to know that is information that we can work on and call at any time. If the House so desires I can go to ZPPA to check whether the processes were followed and whether the ACC’s investigation has revealed anything or if the matter is still ongoing. That information can be obtained and given to the House and the public.”
At this point, Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti ordered Nkombo to issue a Ministerial statement on the matter, saying there was clearly need for more information.
“From the answer being given by the Minister, it seems there needs to be a Ministerial statement on the matter. So the Minister can come back to the House for the Ministerial statement and shed more light on this issue. Other questions can be asked when the Ministerial statement will be issued,” said Speaker Mutti.