INFRASTRUCTURE, Housing and Urban Development Minister Charles Milupi says failure by the PF government to construct the FTJ University is a serious indictment on the former ruling party.
And Milupi says people who were boasting that they were experts in infrastructure development failed to work on the Ndola-Lusaka dual carriageway.
In an interview, Monday, Milupi said a number of people were affected as a result of the abuse of public resources in the previous regime.
“It is a serious indictment on those who ran the affairs of the country before us. That is why when measures are being taken against those who [are] perceived to have abused their offices, abused the public resources, involved themselves in corruption, some people go out and accuse government of carrying out persecutions, not prosecutions. This is sad! This particular issue, you have also seen that the people who are raising the most comments are the same people who accuse government of carrying out persecutions. People like Emmanuel Mwamba, I have seen him issuing statements,” he said.
“This is what this government is talking about, resources were misapplied, resources were abused and when we say, people hit themselves in the chest and say ‘no, we were doing infrastructure development’, and so on. Now when people defend this wrongdoing and when government wants to take action, there are people who are affected by abuse of public resources. The government and the whole population are affected, but more than that, the local communities who were supposed to be serviced by these infrastructures are badly affected.”
Milupi said it was sad that despite money being released in 2016, nothing was done at the University site.
“FTJ University, it was supposed to be a one university in Mansa, obviously students were supposed to come from all over the country, but the significant portion was going to come from the local area. It was also going to create employment opportunities for those in local areas and so on. So you can imagine, this money was released in 2016, it is a lot of money by now we would have seen a difference. Some people are actually supporting, even showing old pictures of the development, I have seen this on social media, we are following this, and yet nothing was done. Now there are lies to protect the thieving that was going on and it has been badly exposed by this particular project. So as Minister of Infrastructure, it is sad because it is an infrastructure that could have served part of our community, it has not done so and money has gone somewhere else,” he said.
Milupi said it was up to law enforcement officers to determine where the money that was allocated to the university went.
“It is up to the law enforcement officers to determine where that money went, the action taken. That is why this matter has come because law enforcement agencies are taking action. We are yet to see what happens. Action is being taken by law enforcement officers. Obviously, these will follow, ‘who paid the money’ I think law enforcement officers are doing that, ‘who signed what contract’ and if the contractor got the money, what did they use the money for and who are they? All these matters will follow. The example of the FTJ that we are talking about, those that are crying the loudest, ‘we are [being] persecuted’, what are they saying now about that university that could have served their community?” he wondered.
And in a separate interview, Milupi said the selection of a contractor to undertake the works on the Ndola-Lusaka dual carriageway would be guided by the law.
“Those who were boasting that they were experts in infrastructure development, they didn’t do it. They allowed it to deteriorate to the level where we found it. They also depleted the coffers. So there was no money in the treasury for us to undertake it. And they also over-borrowed so we couldn’t borrow, we can’t borrow, that is why we are looking at PPP to invite investors to come and do it. The process of getting the contractor is guided by the law so I can’t just wake up and say ‘you contractor, you investor go and do it,” he said.
“That is not how these things work. It is governed by the PPP Act, it is governed by the ZPPA Act, National Construction Council Act. We have to make sure that we obey.”
He said the process to commence works on the road has reached an advanced stage.
“So with regards to the process, it will be advertised. And after that advertisement, bidders put in their expression of interest. And our experts have carried out the preliminary indications and we have moved to the next stage. Now that stage is about them those that qualify to give us details. For example the cost, for example the quality, for example where is the money, for example how many years do they want the concession to be. For example how many toll gates, the toll gates revenue, how it will be shared, what will be the percentage for government because we don’t want to lose totally,” Milupi said.
Asked about the expected period for the completion of the project, the Infrastructure Minister said that would be guided by the offer from the contractor.
“I can’t give you that information right now. The final offer will determine what the cost [will be], how long it’s going to take to construct, what quality, what revenue sharing mechanism and so on. So if I say it’s going to be done in so many years, maybe other contractors, that’s not what they are putting in. So we wait to see what the offer will be,” said Milupi.