Opposition Alliance MPs on Wednesday took Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri to task over delays on the Beitbridge-Chirundu dualisation project, saying government was fond of holding groundbreaking ceremonies for projects which fail to take-off.
Muchinguri was acting leader of the House in the absence of Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza.
“We appreciate that the nation has, for a long time, been waiting for this road to start, but I want to indicate that only yesterday, Cabinet was discussing this matter and we are almost at the verge now of agreeing and signing a contract,” Muchinguri said in response to Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya who wanted an update on the progress.
But Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai said government was taking citizens for granted.
“How can you have a groundbreaking ceremony without a contractor and contracts, then you say you have commissioned the construction of the road? Is that practical,” he queried.
Muchinguri admitted that the groundbreaking ceremony was done last year for the stagnant road project.
“Government had contracted a certain company for the contract, but later on it was discovered that the company had not been honest in its dealings, such that the new dispensation saw the problems that arose from the contract and withdrew the contract and considered other companies who had tendered for the same contract.
“Due diligence was done and interrogations were made to see whether the company had the money to do that. The minister is supposed to inform us on that, but I want to say we are correcting mistakes that had been made before,” she said.
Former President Robert Mugabe held a ground breaking ceremony for the project in April last year, while construction was supposed to start the following month after government awarded Austrian contractor Geiger International and China Harbour Engineering contracts for dualising the Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu highways.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration cancelled the contracts early this year, with reports suggesting that a Chinese firm had been awarded the tender.
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