Work be­gins on con­demned trans­mit­ter sites

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pamela Shumba Se­nior Re­porter

THE Gov­ern­ment has started work­ing on three sub-stan­dard trans­mit­ter sites in Mid­lands and Mata­bele­land North prov­inces.

Con­sult­ing en­gi­neers hired by the Gov­ern­ment re­cently con­demned the trans­mit­ter sites in Zvisha­vane, In­siza and Tsholot­sho for sub­stan­dard work­man­ship.

Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Me­dia, In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices, Mr Ge­orge Charamba yes­ter­day vis­ited the In­siza and Tsholot­sho trans­mit­ter sites.

“In­siza and Tsholot­sho sites share this very bad at­tribute. Both have been con­demned and my heart bleeds for In­siza be­cause that’s the first site I vis­ited in Mata­bele­land South. The worst thing that you want to hap­pen to you is to visit a con­demned site. They have hon­ey­combs. Th­ese hap­pen when the con­crete is not com­pacted well to a point where you leave some air pock­ets.

“It then cre­ates some gaps that leave the rods which re­in­force the struc­ture exposed to the el­e­ments, which means they will start rust­ing and when they rust it means the life­span of the struc­ture is re­duced. In fact when it’s ex­pected to live for 50 years it will sur­vive just half the num­ber. It’s a fail­ure in con­struc­tion,” said Mr Charamba.

He said in Zvisha­vane they have fin­ished de­mol­ish­ing the struc­ture and have started the foun­da­tions afresh.

“It’s the first in­stance where a site has been de­mol­ished and built anew, so I want to be sat­is­fied that it can be done. If I’m not sat­is­fied it means we’ll not ac­cept de­mo­li­tions but sim­ply move from the con­demned site to a new one.

“I went there de­lib­er­ata­ley be­cause I wanted to see with my own eyes what the en­gi­neers were talk­ing about and also to drama­tise the fact that the min­istry ex­pects noth­ing short of stan­dards,” he said.

He added that the Gov­ern­ment brought on board con­sult­ing en­gi­neers whose role is to fol­low through on all the sites to test the stan­dards in build­ing of the foun­da­tions.

“When they vis­ited the sites they ran into the hon­ey­combs and they had been patched. I’m re­ally grate­ful to the en­gi­neers be­cause when they saw patches they be­came sus­pi­cious. They knocked the patches and the rods were exposed. All the four foun­da­tion legs at In­siza have been con­demned. That means they have to be de­mol­ished and the work has to start afresh. I re­ally would have wanted to make a dif­fer­ence in Tsholot­sho through the project. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of hon­ey­combed struc­ture as well as bolts whose pro­tru­sions ex­ceed the re­quired stan­dard. And be­cause of bolts it means the four foun­da­tion struc­tures also have to be de­mol­ished.”

Mr Charamba al­layed fears that the de­mo­li­tions and the new work would result in the Gov­ern­ment pay­ing more.

“It’s not cost­ing us any money but we’ve lost time. We con­tracted a Chi­nese com­pany to do the work and we’ve what we call ac­cep­tance tests, which means a struc­ture only be­comes our con­cern pro­vided it has met the set stan­dards through an ac­cep­tance test.

“Be­fore it does it still be­longs to the con­trac­tor and when we con­demn a struc­ture it means the con­trac­tor must re-do the work and in­vite us when they’ve our re­quire­ments. Only then do we ac­cept it and pay,” said Mr Charamba.

He said he was happy that the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment had an­nounced that it had availed some money to­wards the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion project.

“What as­suaged my anger is the fact that only two weeks ago we got a lovely let­ter from the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance in­di­cat­ing he was re­leas­ing some money to­wards the project, which was vir­tu­ally grind­ing to a stand­still on ac­count of non-pay­ment. For us it’s good news that some money has come our way. By the time I get back to Harare I’m sure we’ll know the fig­ures.

“We were lagging be­hind to the tune of about $21 mil­lion and any­thing that will go to­wards re­duc­ing that level of obli­ga­tion is very much wel­come. We had got to a stage where Huawei was no longer re­leas­ing equip­ment. We don’t want that to hap­pen. Huawei trusts us and I don’t think it’s in our in­ter­est to un­der­mine that trust,” said Mr Charamba.

He said once the coun­try has places that are com­pli­ant to dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and set top boxes, they will be switched on, mean­ing that the switch­ing on pro­grammes will be stag­gered. — @pame­lashumba1

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