MINISTER of Water Development and Sanitation Mike Mposha says there is a huge possibility that what government sees as errors could be the work of people who are not happy with the progress being made by the new dawn administration.
And Mposha says his ministry has commenced the process of laying appropriate charges against the officers involved in negligently place a wrong water meter contract advert.
The Minister was speaking in Parliament, Wednesday, after rendering a ministerial statement on the procurement of prepaid domestic water meters for water utility companies.
Sikongo UPND member of parliament Mayungo Simushi asked the minister whether the errors happening in the ministries were deliberate moves by some people who were trying to fight government’s policies.
“I am very concerned and worried about these erroneous issues that are happening in these ministries. Yesterday it was the Ministry of Health where we saw some medicines that were not supposed to be given out, sent and unfortunately consumed. I would like to find out from the Minister, don’t you think that maybe what you are calling errors are not really errors but are deliberate moves by some people who are trying to fight the policies of the new dawn administration especially those who are aligned to the former regime of the PF? And don’t you think it’s time we tried to do something about this issue in terms of cleaning up the system?” asked Simushi.
In response, Mposha said it was possible that people who were not happy with government’s progress wanted to bring it down.
“Madam Speaker, it is possible, very much possible. Particularly that not too long ago one of the political leaders did announce that they will be able to bring down this government because they left a lot of people in these systems. And I have no doubt, I cannot doubt there is a huge possibility that what we are seeing to be an error could be the work of these people who are not happy with the progress that we are making as a new dawn government. I want to assure that no stone will be left unturned to make sure that we get to the bottom of this matter. Not only in my ministry but I think it is also a lesson to the many ministries to ensure that we watch and look out for those who could have been planted to ensure that they bring down this government,” Mposha responded.
Asked by Matero PF member of parliament Miles Sampa if the prepaid meters would be in all households, the minister said government wanted to migrate as many customers as possible from fixed to prepaid meters.
“The procurement of these meters and eventually the installation is meant for various households, not only the high-class areas. We want to migrate as many customers as possible from fixed into prepaid,” he said.
In his ministerial statement earlier, Mposha said K24 million had been set aside in the 2022 national budget for the procurement of prepaid and postpaid water meters.
He said the meters were meant to be installed by commercial water utility companies to account for water produced and supplied to customers.
“The background to this procurement of water meters is that water utility companies have been facing operational challenges resulting in failure to adequately account and bill customers for water consumed. This is due to lack of water meters as nearly all new connections are not metered while old meters have outlived their usefulness and become dysfunctional. In addition, water utility companies face the challenge of high non-revenue water which is the unaccounted for water, most of which is lost to leakages through the old and dilapidated water distribution networks. Therefore, the government of the Republic of Zambia under the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema through my Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation has set aside funds amounting to 24 million in the 2022 national budget for the procurement of prepaid and postpaid water meters. These meters are meant to be installed by commercial water utility companies to account for water produced and supplied to customers as one way of addressing high non-revenue water and reduce loss of revenue,” Mposha said.
He revealed that the tender for the supply and delivery of 1,084 prepaid domestic water meters attracted a total of 26 bids.
“Madam Speaker, to this effect, commercial utility companies provided information such as types of water meter, sizes, and estimated unit costs required to facilitate the procurement of the meters. Having received the information relating to specifications of the meters, in November 2021 my ministry invited sealed bids from eligible bidders through the open national competitive bidding (NCB) in line with section 37 of the public procurement act no. 8 of 2020,” he said.
“As such, my ministry floated the tender number MWDS/GRZ/ DWSS/G/01/2021 broken down in lot 1 and 2 for the supply and delivery of 24, 434 post-paid meters and one 1,084 pre-paid domestic meters for the utility companies, respectively. On 10th December 2021, the tender for the supply and delivery of 1,084 prepaid domestic water meters closed and a total of 26 bids were received. Thereafter, my ministry constituted an evaluation committee to evaluate the bids that were received.”
Mposha added that the ministerial procurement committee at its meeting approved the recommendation to award the contract to the best evaluated bidder at a total cost of US$ 271,526.
“The ministerial procurement committee at its meeting held on 14th February 2022 approved the recommendation to award the contract to the best evaluated bidder at a total cost of US$ 271,526.00, which is K4,824,881.26 equivalent. In accordance with section 71 (1) of the public procurement act number 8 of 2020 which provides for notification of the best evaluated bidder, my ministry published the notice of award in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper volume 26 number 041 of 17th February 2022. Madam Speaker, I wish to state that in the advertisement for notification of the award published in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper of 17th February 2022, an amount of US$271,824,881.26 was erroneously quoted instead of the amount of US$ 271, 526.00 which is the correct contract price. Realizing that the advertisement for notification of award was erroneous, my ministry brought this to the attention of management at the Zambia Daily Mail resulting in cancellation of the said advertisement. Further, the corrected advertisement was published in the Zambia Daily Mail volume 26 number 042 of Friday, 18th February 2022 bearing the correct contract amount of US$ 271, 526.00,” he said.
Mposha said preliminary investigations revealed that an officer wrongly sent the advertisement with the wrong figures.
“Preliminary investigations have since revealed that an officer wrongly sent the advertisement with wrong figures bearing the said amount of US$ 271,824,881.26 instead of US$ 271,526.00. Madam Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to assure this House that my ministry has since commenced the process of laying the appropriate charges against the officers involved in negligently carrying out this assignment. In the same vein, my ministry has strengthened the existing procedures to ensure that exchange of information and correspondence between my ministry and its stakeholders passes through the necessary controls and quality assurance. Furthermore, my ministry will tighten the existing rules to ensure responsible officers carry out their supervisory roles effectively and efficiently. This is in order to avert the situation which manifested itself regarding the matter at hand,” said Mposha.
He assured the House that the officers would have a fair hearing