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Tricycle ambulance deal smells ‘fishy’

By ADRIAN MWANZA

THE Ministry of Health “cheated” the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) by presenting an under-priced request for approval to procure 1, 500 tricycles but awarded the contract at a higher price, the 2020 Auditor General’s report has revealed.

The report indicated that in July 2020, the Ministry of Health requested ZPPA for a “No Objection” to directly bid Barakatel Investments Ltd for the supply of 1, 500 Tricycle Ambulances at a cost of US$8, 100, 000 which was rejected in September on grounds that there were no compelling justifications.

In October, the ministry resubmitted the application to ZPPA with a revised estimated cost of US$6, 150, 000 to which ZPPA granted a No Objection.

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However on November 11, the ministry engaged Barakatel Investments Ltd for the supply and delivery of 1, 500 tricycle ambulances at a contract price of K180, 000, 000 with a delivery period of two to eight weeks ex-stock basis or two weeks.

The report said a scrutiny of the negotiation signed on November 4, 2020 revealed that the supplier quoted the cost of one tricycle ambulance at K120, 000 and the exchange rate used in the negotiation was K21.10 to a US$1.

The report also indicated that there was a failure to deliver tricycle ambulances as per contract in a letter dated November 9,  2020, Barakatel Investments Ltd confirmed to the ministry that they had 2, 000 tricycle ambulances ex-stock and were able to deliver the 1, 500 Tricycle Ambulances within a period of two to eight weeks.

However as at June 30, 2021, only 1, 114 tricycle ambulances had been delivered leaving a balance of 386.

A review of correspondence dated June 22, 2020 also revealed that BarakatelInvestments donated 29 tricycle ambulances to the Ministry of Health to assist in health service provision.

The report indicated that on July 1, 2020, K14, 000 was paid to the Ministry of Works and Supply to register the tricycles as GRZ property.

However, as of August 31, 2021, the donated ambulances could not be physically accounted for in that their whereabouts were not known.

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