By SIMON MUNTEMBA
GOVERNMENT is owing road contractors over K127 billion which would take about 40 years to dismantle if nothing is done and that is why we paused the advertisement for tendering of routine road maintenance to avoid accruing more debts, Charles Milupi has said.
Mr Milupi who is Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development said it was unfair for contractors to accuse him of having cancelled the tendering process with the aim of giving contracts to his preferred people because all he wants is to bring sanity in the sector.
He was reacting to remarks by the Zambian Association of Citizen Contractors (ZACCO) that his explanation that he has not cancelled but paused advertisement for tendering of routine road maintenance was not adding up.
ZACCO General Secretary, Danny Simumba who insisted that it was illegal for the minister to cancel or pause procurement proceedings as he did not have powers to do so, said Mr Milupi wanted to give contracts to his preferred people.
In an interview Mr Milupi said he was in charge of the ministry and wanted to ensure the right thing was done to avoid accumulation of debts to contractors.
He explained that advertising and awarding contracts when Government has no money had contributed to the country accruing K127 billion.
“We owe contractors just on roads alone K127 billion. And at the rate we are dismantling these debts on roads, it would take 40 years to complete that if nothing is done,” Mr Milupi said.
He said he sympathised with all the contractors who were owed money in the infrastructure sector but has called for patience as Government works out modalities to restructure the country’s huge debt burden.
Mr Milupi emphasised that the government was devising a plan of ensuring that no contractor is side-lined whether start up or already established.
Meanwhile, Mr Simumba maintained that Mr Milupi’s decision to pause the advertisement for tender was illegal.