PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema announced that Government had fired four procurement officers who allegedly helped price upwards, the cost of building a house in Eastern Province from K200, 000 to K850, 000.
A friend of mine and quantity surveyor thinks that the President is being misinformed and being given inadequate or unexplained data.
He said the design and construction of two-bedroomed houses in Vubwi cannot cost K200, 000, 603km from Lusaka.
He said the matter becomes more difficult as it is units of houses being built in Vubwi.
He says this involves associated costs of;
1. Detailed designs of a unit of the house.
2. Cost of material from Lusaka, 603km away.
3. It is a compound, so there will be the construction of peripheral works such as;
a) Construction of accessibility road to site,
b) Road network in the compound,
c) Bulk services, that include water supply, sewer system and electrical reticulation and associated drainage works.
d) If the units are many, they may require own step down transformer for the compound.
e) There are also preliminary and general works.
f) Further, their are professional fees associated with works to design, supervise and deliver the project.
Infact, he says to his knowlegde, the quotation from the National Housing Authority, a quasi-government institution that participated in the tender, priced far higher than the K850, 000 per unit as given to the winning bidder.
The dismissal of the four workers therefore required more care before we take a simplistic approach to these matters.
Clearly, we need technocrats to help verify information that comes from whistle-blowers as it may be insufficient, inconclusive or clearly misrepresented as the case here.
Before and after elections, some people, job seekers, those acting to impress, and those seeking favours, heighten the peddling of juicy information.
It’s up-to the leaders to take great caution and take time to verify such information.
Whistleblowers are welcome, but the information requires that it is processed and verified before it is passed on to higher authorities so that the President is not placed in an awkward situation as this case may turn out to be.