THE KASAMA Municipal Council yesterday struggled to explain to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government Accounts how it spent K102,961 to build an ablution block foundation, when only a contract sum of K45,379 was awarded to complete the project.

And Council Town Clerk Zakeyo Mbao said the Council borrowed K375,000 from ZANACO in order to construct an ablution block and procure two trucks.

Speaking during a committee meeting, Tuesday, Chasefu independent member of Parliament Misheck Nyambose lamented that the council delayed to actualise the project 14 months after expected completion date.

“Listening to the Town Clerk, he indicated comfortably, if I can use that, to say that Chikumanino ablution block is not CDF. On 4th November, 2019, it was estimated at a contract sum of K45,379 for a period of 10 weeks. As at 30th April, 2021, amounts totalling K102,961 comprising of materials of 89,773 and labor K13,188 had been spent. A physical inspection in April 2021, revealed that the structure had only been built up to foundation level, 14 months after expected completion date. That is more than one year,” said Nyambose.

“These are public resources, over K102,000 spent on foundation level only. What explanation do you give as Town Clerk to this committee and the nation? What type of ablution block that you can spend K102,00 just on foundation level? What other plans does the council have to finish this project especially that you are receiving 20% of the local government equalisation fund? Where are you taking this fund? This council needs to be serious.”

And in response, Mbao revealed that the council had borrowed K375,000 from ZANACO in order to construct the ablution block and procure two trucks.

“Local authorities can never borrow without authority. The law is very clear and authority was sought and was given to us to proceed. The total amount was K375,000. The council wanted to take advantage of the construction of the new bus station so that we can add more facilities to it to raise more revenues instead of just loading and parking of buses,” Mbao said.

“We needed an ablution block so that people can continue using. The current ablution block which was there was renovated and we wanted to expand by building a new one. Because of the issues where the funders could not complete giving the loans and the demand from the people that we did not need an ablution block but a waiting room to help residents. So we had to seek authority to change from an ablution to a waiting bay.”

Meanwhile, Lufubu constituency UPND member of parliament Wesley Kolala wondered why the council proceeded to borrow money without having a proper pay back plan.

“Sometimes I feel like we are massaging critical information that needs to be looked at with the seriousness it deserves. They are saying this is not CDF but a loan from ZANACO to undertake this project. This is a council that entered into borrowing for the council and we take that as normal? Did you even get authority to get the loan?” he said.

And in response, Mbao said the council would use the 20 percent capital component of the equalization grant to pay back the loan.

“The loan was structured in two parts with ZANCAO. We were using the 20% capital component of the equalization grant to borrow and would be used to pay back. The 112,000 we got was part of the loan agreement we got to ZANACO and is being paid as part of the 20% capital component of the equalization. The Ministry authorised us to do so for the construction of the ablution block and the procurement of a tipper truck and the TLB,” he said

“The two trucks were delivered but for the ablution block, there were issues. There are minutes of when we decided to move from an ablution block to the other demanded project. When we wrote to the bank to vary, that is how the project stalled. What was advanced to us was K112,000 for us to do the foundation and other auxiliary works on the ablution block. I would say no that what we intended is not what has happened. Obviously there is a reason why that has happened and I have tried to explain the way forward.”

But Nyambose insisted on wanting to know how a foundation of an ablution block could cost over K100,000.

In response, Kasama Municipal Council Director Engineering Griffin’s Ngoma said some materials were on site and had still not been utilised.

“The project did not reach that level of expenditure in terms of the work that happened on the ground. So when the foundation was done, that was when the project was halted. So we still have materials on site like sands and stones purchased out of the 80 something thousand. In terms of the value, we still have some other materials that we have not utilised,” said Ngoma.

However, Mbao contradicted with the engineer and indicated that building materials such as cement were bought but were still with the supplier and would only be collected once constructions resumed.

In conclusion, committee chairperson Darius Mulunda said the committee would direct the council to produce evidence on all receipts as required.

“I feel we are not progressing and we are not going anywhere. This project has been abandoned and we will not get anywhere. We are not getting the answers that we need and we cannot continue talking about this. We should issue an instruction to get all the receipts and include them in our report,” said Mulunda.