By Innocent Ruwende
Some Harare City Council workers are reportedly sabotaging the city’s road rehabilitation programme by demanding kickbacks from contractors to facilitate payment from Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), it has emerged. Last week, companies contracted to rehabilitate Harare’s roads under the $17 million Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme stopped work because they were not getting money from Zinara.
The city said the contractors were paid last Friday, but most contractors said they were still to get payment.
This has stalled work in most areas as heaps of gravel are visible even on long stretches, particularly on Harare Drive and Crowborough Road (Warren Park D), where gravel is blocking most parts of the road.
At a full council meeting recently, council officials expressed concern over the state of the city’s roads and chairperson of the Environment Management Committee Councillor Herbert Gomba said major challenges being faced were inadequate and late disbursements of funds from Zinara.
He cited lack of foreign currency to procure equipment, shortage of bitumen and heavy rains, which were not giving contractors enough time and conditions to work on the roads.
It emerged that the problem of late Zinara disbursements was being caused by council employees who wanted kickbacks from the contractors to facilitate payment.
Clr Gomba yesterday confirmed that some council workers had been cited for deliberately frustrating the process.
“They (contractors) were paid on Friday, but yes we have had stories where people have deliberately delayed the processing of documents, which could have speeded up the service delivery thrust,” he said.
“Let me assure the citizens that we will take action to promote public interest in view of bureaucratic bottlenecks.”
On foreign currency, acting town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango was requested to approach the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to assist to enable the procurement of road equipment and to engage Zinara with a request to expedite the release of funds for road repairs.
“Further to that, a report on recruitment of a roads engineer had been before the Human Resources and General Purposes Committee and the Environment Management Committee had also requested the extension of contracts for road contract workers among other issues,” read the minutes.
Last year, Government declared Harare roads a state of disaster and moved in to assist the city to rehabilitate them.