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SPE­CIAL As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent for Projects Im­ple­men­ta­tion and Mon­i­tor­ing, Andrew Chel­lah is ab­so­lutely in or­der to di­rect con­trac­tors who have aban­doned projects for un­ex­plained rea­sons to im­me­di­ately re­turn to site or risk fac­ing the law. Re­gretably, it has be­come com­mon for con­trac­tors, es­pe­cially lo­cal com­pa­nies to ei­ther aban­don projects soon af­ter get­ting a down pay­ment, or carry out sub­stan­dard works. But this is not as it should be. This does not only dent the govern­ment’s im­age but de­prive Zam­bians the right to en­joy qual­ity ser­vices. This is very se­ri­ous es­pe­cially that the con­trac­tors, be it lo­cal or for­eign, are aware of the inevitable need to ad­here to ethics and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing the ex­e­cu­tion of projects. Aban­don­ing projects or car­ry­ing out shoddy works amounts to theft and we to­tally agree with Mr Chel­lah that in­com­pe­tent con­trac­tors who fail to re­turn to site should be dragged to court for pros­e­cu­tion. Mr Chel­lah’s im­promptu visit to var­i­ous con­struc­tion sites in Shibuyunji where he found that con­trac­tors had ei­ther aban­doned the projects or took too long to com­plete them is dis­tress­ing, to say the least. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Chel­lah, the con­tac­tors had aban­doned the projects be­cause of poor work ethics or in­com­pe­tence af­ter they were paid the money. We sub­mit that the state should se­ri­ously deal with con­trac­tors found want­ing to serve as a de­ter­rent to other con­trac­tors who may be plan­ning on de­sert­ing the projects. It is shame­ful that lo­cal con­trac­tors are the ma­jor cul­prits when it comes to aban­don­ing projects or do­ing shoddy works once they are paid yet they are the ones cry­ing the loud­est that con­tracts are only given to for­eign firms. While it is true that there has been a grow­ing ten­dency to award con­tracts to for­eign com­pa­nies at the ex­pense of lo­cal ones, lo­cals have them­selves to blame. It would seem lo­cal con­trac­tors are only in­ter­ested in the money as op­posed to do­ing top-notch works of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. With this kind of un­eth­i­cal con­duct, who is to blame if most of the ma­jor ten­ders are awarded to in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies which offer qual­ity ser­vices? Of course we are mind­ful of the fact that not all for­eign com­pa­nies are per­fect, no. Like some lo­cal con­trac­tors, some for­eign firms are in it for the money and per­sonal ag­gran­dis­e­ment and as a re­sult have failed to per­form. We urge lo­cal con­trac­tors in par­tic­u­lar to up their game and stop wast­ing hard­earned tax­pay­ers’ money. Given what hap­pened in Shibuyungi, we salute Mr Chel­lah for tak­ing to task those con­trac­tors found want­ing. But warn­ings alone merely fall on death ears. Govern­ment should play hard­ball and deal ruth­lessly with in­ept con­trac­tors who are giv­ing govern­ment a bad im­age. What hap­pened to the idea of black­ing in­ept con­trac­tors? Per­haps this is the time to re­visit this in­ter­ven­tion.

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