Poor workmanship Govt condemns shoddy job on transmitter sites
THE Government has condemned three substandard transmitter sites in Midlands and Matabeleland North provinces.
ZimDigital, tasked with spearheading the country’s digitalisation programme, has ordered that work at Zvishavane, Tsholotsho and Insiza be redone at the expense of the contractors after the jobs failed to meet the technical expectations.
In an interview at one of the substandard transitory sites in Zvishavane yesterday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba, said he was not amused with progress made at the site and two others in Tsholotsho and Insiza.
He said there were 16 sites that were being worked on adding that only three had been condemned for substandard workmanship.
“This is a very unhappy site, unhappy in the sense that it has not passed the technical expectations and we are not going to approve of this. It has emerged that three of the four legs have failed the test and that means we have to either blast it to the ground or move to a new site. But blasting is not an option since we are sharing this site with another installation. As you know, blasting actually affects our neighbour and in that case, liability will attach to us.
“So it is not an option at all. What it means is that we have to move away and (construct new legs). This is not the sense of migration we had anticipated and it is being done after a lot of work.”
“So we have taken an unprecedented move of having to condemn this. I remember talking to some contractor who said such works we are condemning are appreciated in other countries. I told him to take such substandard work there. ”
He added: “What I want to tell Zimbabwe is that this is not a ZimDigital problem, it is a problem that is going to be taken care of by the contractor. When expectations are not met, it means the contractor has to redo the work at his expense.”
Mr Charamba said they were particular about the set up of the transmission sites because of the dangers substandard works posed to the surroundings and also the life span they are expected to remain upright.
“We are very particular about this because on top of the legs will sit 60 tonnes of steel. So if we don’t get it right at the very outset, it means there is a real danger that the tower will topple or its life span, which is between 40 to 50 years, will be reduced. You can imagine the structure falling and what it will do since it will be 113 metres high,” he said.
Mr Charamba said in total there would be 24 new sites and 24 old sites to cover 80 percent of the country with transmission signals.
“Overally we are happy with work on the ground. This is money and time that we are dealing with and this should tell you that we are very strict about the standard of work. We have even hired a consultancy firm in civil works because we only have competence in computer and electrical engineering and not civil engineering,” he said.
Mr Charamba said once the 48 transmitters are in place, a team will go around the country to see if there are dark areas that need digital transmission.
He said more transmitters may be added.
Mr Charamba said the country needed about $17 million to complete the process of purchasing set-top-boxes with $1,8 million being for about 450 000 boxes to kick start digitalisation.
Mr Charamba said the $200 million digitalisation programme had the potential to open new avenues for the country’s economic recovery.
Zimbabwe targets to migrate from analogue to digital transmission by the end of this year.
Mr Charamba also visited another site in Mashava.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba (right), with Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and ZimDigital officials tour the condemned site in Zvishavane