STATE SWINDLED OVER US$6M

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By SILUMESI MALUMO

GOVERNMENT has been swindled out of US$ 6, 271, 420 for nine undelivered dredgers which were procured in 2015.

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of nine of the 12 dredgers which the government procured in 2015 through a supplier, Messer MCD Civil and Mechanical Engineering Limited, as only three have been delivered to date.

Government, through the Ministry of Transport and Communication in 2015 paid the said company US$9, 240, 370 which was 75 percent payment out of US$11, 875, 800 to supply 12 dredgers.

The consignment was supposed to be supplied within eight months from the date of advance payment but Government up to now has no knowledge when the nine dredgers would be supplied.When contacted, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing Permanent Secretary Charles Mushota said the Ministry of Transport and Communications was the one responsible for the consignment.

Minister of Transport and Communications Brian Mushimba, however referred the query back to the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, saying that the matter was no longer their baby.

“From the time the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing was created, the department that deals with that was moved from our Ministry,” Mr Mushimba said.

And when asked whether Government was blank about the whereabouts of the dredging machines, Mr Mushota said that he would engage the Ministry of Transport.

“I need to engage our friends the Ministry of Transport and Communications over the matter because they were responsible for the consignment,” Mr Mushota said.

The Auditor General’s report for the financial year ending 2016 had indicated that not all dredgers procured were delivered. The report also indicated that a review of the situation during the audit of 2016 accounts revealed that the contractor had only supplied three out of 12 dredgers.

Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing Ronald Chitotela stated in a ministerial statement in parliament last year that nine dredgers had not yet been delivered despite Government making a deposit of US$9, 240, 370.

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