By SIMON MUNTEMBA
GOVERNMENT should speed up the payment processes to contractors and suppliers for services rendered to avert depression and loss of lives because out of frustrations others have terminated their lives due to pressure from creditors or banks, the Zambia Association of Citizen Contractors (ZACCO) has said.
ZACCO General Secretary, Danny Simumba said delayed and non-payment to contractors and suppliers has led to social and economic disaster in the Zambian construction community.
In an interview, Mr Simumba said one of their members had committed suicide on the Copperbelt because he could not contain the loss of his properties to banks and other financial lending institutions.
He said Government should therefore, quickly pay contractors and suppliers to avert the impending social and financial disasters respectively in the construction sector.
“The effects of delayed payment and non-payment as a hazard are evidenced by the rising number of mental health-related conditions such as depression which has affected a substantial number of directors of construction enterprises due to loss of their properties to creditors or banks and other financial lending institutions,” Mr Simumba said.
Unfortunately, he said, others have lost their lives through suicide because they could not withstand the pressures of life such as failure to provide food and other basic necessities to their families.
“Moreover, the impact of social and biological disasters have not spared the employees who work or/and worked in the affected construction companies because they also face the same financial difficulties arising from delayed and non-payment of their wages and salaries,” he said.
Mr Simumba also said that making an assumption or generalising that all construction contractors who entered into contractual agreement with the government were aligned to the Patriotic Front was a very unfair supposition.
He said the challenge of delayed payments to contractors could only be resolved by government reaching out to the Zambian contractors who are owed the money.
He said it was disheartening to observe that whilst the Ministry of Finance and National Planning was aggressively engaging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with a view to getting the bailout package or an economic programme, the contractors and suppliers were being ignored.
Mr Simumba said there was need for government to quickly meet the representatives of contractors and suppliers with a view to discussing and working out mechanisms which will lead to the dismantling of the outstanding payments.