INFRASTRUCTURE minister Charles Milupi says the UPND Alliance administration will ensure there is no corruption in construction projects and that the country gets value for its money.
He assured President Hakainde Hichilema that with him at the helm of the ministry, he should rest assured that there would be demonstration that on every project the government gets value for money.
He said not only were the departments able to give core estimates, but also, working with the Zambia Public Procurement Authority would be able to adjudicate to ensure the government gets the best contractors, offers and tenders for its works.
Milupi said the government would critically look at tenders provided.
“And the tender system has got to be open and transparent,” he said.
Milupi said opening of tenders must be public events where people witness the process.
“Now when you carry out evaluations, first thing that they’ll do is look at what we call technical compliance. It is pointless offering to do a certain thing at so much less if you are not able to do it on the technical perspective,” he said. “So you’ve got to be technically compliant; are you able to do it? Do you have the equipment? We have heard stories of tenderpreneurs, people who even without a shovel, a wheelbarrow, they have tenders and immediately after getting them they go to some foreign company to come and they share the money.”
Milupi such arrangements were what resulted in escalation of construction costs.
He said now officers would have to evaluate if those who tender were up to the job and whether what was being proposed was technically compliant.
“To understand whether its technically compliant, it would have been the work of the engineers within the ministry who have defined what technical compliance is and we have them. It’s not as if we don’t have them, we have these people,” Milupi said. “What we are doing as the new dawn administration is freeing these people now to be professional and that is the theme of my discussions with every department I am meeting. They are qualified for these jobs. They are experienced for these jobs. We want to release this political hand that was there – not to direct them but to facilitate the wrong things that were going on there; the high costs of doing things, the corruption.”
Milupi, who once served as Luena ADD member of parliament and also chaired the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, said once an evaluation of the tenders was done and it was determined that those that tendered had the means, the tools and the financial muscle to undertake the works, now the pricing would be considered.
He said having done the technical compliance evaluation, it was easier to get the lowest bidder because they would have ensured the standards would be met and works would comply with technical specifications.
“Then you go for those whose costs are very competitive. So I am very comfortable in this ministry. This is what I have done throughout my life. I am an engineer by profession, so I am very, very comfortable,” Milupi said. “I think that the President can rest assured that with me in this ministry the resources of this country, we shall be able to demonstrate that on every project we have gotten value for money. That is what is important. If you are doing a road at US $1 million per kilometre, that’s not value for money.”
He said some of the roads that were constructed at great cost were already peeling off and filled with potholes.
“What does that mean? It means whoever did it, the road was not technically compliant. The experts know what it means to go into a …but obviously they cut corners. They made more money, where the width is supposed to be that wide, they took a bit off. Where the thickness was supposed to be this, they took a bit off to line their pockets and whatever they did. We shall make sure that that does not happen,” said Milupi.