SWINDLED CON­TRAC­TORS CRY FOUL

… lo­cal con­trac­tors have ex­hausted all pos­si­ble av­enues to seek read­ress

Daily Nation Newspaper - - Home News - By NA­TION RE­PORTER

ANX­I­ETY has gripped lo­cal con­trac­tors who were re­cently al­legedly duped by an In­dian firm as their plight seems to have reached a dead end.

The In­dian firm, Jaguar Over­seas, al­legedly failed to pay a lo­cal con­trac­tor, Hori­zon Con­trac­tors Lim­ited, of more than US$1 mil­lion which the lat­ter was sup­posed to pay other lo­cal firms it sub- con­tracted to con­struct 208 health posts in Cen­tral, Eastern and Cop­per­belt prov­inces in 2014 us­ing their own money.

Sev­eral firms, which were sub- con­tracted by Hori­zon Con­trac­tors Lim­ited are now threat­en­ing to sue fol­low­ing the fail­ure to hon­our con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions, two years after works were cer­ti­fied com­plete.

A se­nior di­rec­tor for the main con­trac­tor, Hori­zon, Stephen Sikaponda said in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day that his com­pany had ex­hausted all pos­si­ble av­enues to have their mat­ter re­solved but noth­ing tan­gi­ble was com­ing out.

Mr Sikaponda said that the mat­ter was be­fore the courts but that it was al­legedly not be­ing given the nec­es­sary at­ten­tion to be heard.

He said ef­forts to seek au­di­ence with the gov­ern­ment through the Min­istry of Health had also hit a snag as au­thor­i­ties had al­legedly failed to give them au­di­ence.

Mr Sikaponda dis­closed that the court de­lays were even re­ported to the Ju­di­cial Com­plaints Com­mis­sion but that no ac­tion was taken.

He said they were now in a state of help­less­ness as they did not know where else to run to.

“This for­eign firm has been awarded more con­tracts de­spite gov­ern­ment be­ing fully aware that it has not paid us for the pre­vi­ous work.

We are now los­ing hope be­cause we don’t know any­where else to run to,” Mr Sikaponda said.

He ap­pealed to Pres­i­dent Lungu to in­ter­vene, say­ing that lo­cal con­trac­tors had been plead­ing with the Min­istry of Health to in­ter­vene but that the min­istry had main­tained that it was not its baby.

The In­dian firm, which had no li­cence, had part­nered with Hori­zon Con­trac­tors Lim­ited to en­able it to build health posts after be­ing con­tracted to do so.

Hori­zon Con­trac­tors also sub- con­tracted more than 100 lo­cal firms, with an agree­ment for the firms to use their own money to carry out the works, then re­ceive a con­trac­tual pay­ment upon com­ple­tion of the works.

The over US$19 mil­lion project for the con­struc­tion of the health posts and in­stal­la­tion of es­sen­tial equip­ment was signed be­tween the Zam­bian gov­ern­ment and Jaguar Over­seas on 3rd July, 2013.

Ac­cord­ing to a com­plaint let­ter ad­dressed to the Min­is­ter of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs in In­dia, Sushma Swaraj, the sub- con­trac­tors were sup­posed to be paid their dues for the ex­e­cuted works, two weeks after cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of com­ple­tion by gov­ern­ment in­spec­tors.

Most lo­cal sub-con­trac­tors are how­ever still be­ing owed, with some not paid at all, de­spite the com­pleted works be­ing cer­ti­fied com­plete in 2016.

In the let­ter, Hori­zon Con­trac­tors Lim­ited stated that Jaguar Over­seas was reluc­tant to re­lease money de­spite be­ing paid by gov­ern­ment through Exim Bank of In­dia.

The let­ter states Jaguar Over­seas had only paid the com­pany 59 per­cent of the works ex­e­cuted de­spite re­ceiv­ing about 87% of the con­tract value from the Zam­bian gov­ern­ment.

This for­eign firm has been awarded more con­tracts de­spite the gov­ern­ment be­ing fully aware that it has not paid us for the pre­vi­ous work.

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