By KETRA KALUNGA
TWO Higer Busses out of the 25 buses which were purchased for youth empowerment in 2016 at a cost of K55, 000, 000 by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Child Development have gone missing, the 2020 Auditor General (AG) report has revealed.
The AG report also revealed that youths, through the Public and Private Bus Drivers Association of Zambia (PPBDAZ) owe government over K5, 801, 200 in loans under the empowerment programme.
It also discloses that PPBDAZ owed Higer Zambia Ltd K29,655,280 (US$1,633,000) in outstanding loan repayments, which the ministry as the underwriter paid on 9th June 2020 rendering the expenditure wasteful.
According to the AG report, in 2018, Ministry seized the buses on the recommendation of the Solicitor General after noticing the discrepancies.
The report indicates that 8 buses had been stripped of parts that included engines but the Ministry had not reported the matter to the police.
It states that two bus have to date not been located.
“Only Thirteen (13) buses were runners with minor mechanical problems,” the report reads.
The report states that empowerment deal started with the ministry as the underwriter, extending a loan of K22,000,000 (US$2,000,000) to PPBDAZ that was paid directly to Higer Bus Zambia as 40 percent commitment fee.
It states that the loan was for a period of five years and attracted an interest fee of 5 percent.
The report indicates that PPBDAZ was expected to be making monthly loan repayments of K467,669 to the ministry and was expected to pay the balance of K33,000,000 (US$3,272,200 ) to Higer Bus Zambia Ltd over a period 36 months.
The AG report indicates that the beneficiaries were to fully service the loan at 4% interest rate for a period of 36 months;
It states also that the association was responsible for the routine maintenance and insurance of the buses.
“This project was intended to create 175 direct jobs in the transport sector for the youths,” says the report.
The report states that the terms of the loan required PPBDAZ to have made repayments totalling K12,820,000 to the ministry by December 31st 2018 but that only K2,400,000 had been repaid.
As at 31st July 2021, no action had been taken against PPBDAZ. Further, there were no records maintained to identify the youths that benefitted. Ends///