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PRAZ seeks Gwanda solar project details

Business Reporter
The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) has written to Intratrek Zimbabwe seeking clarification on all matters regarding the Gwanda solar project, chief among them payments and progress reports.

The full details requested by PRAZ entail exact dates for contract commencement, end dates of the contract, dates when the site was availed to contractor, interim payments certificates issued thus far, payments received to date, monthly progress reports, performance reports and details of contract variations.

This comes after the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) floated a competitive tender in 2013 for construction of the 300 megawatt solar project to reduce power shortages. Intratrek Zimbabwe won the tender after it submitted the lowest bid to specification.

Implementation of the project, following release of $5,1 million advance payment without a bank guarantee, however, ran into challenges, resulting in delayed completion of the pre-commencement works.

While the initial works could not be completed on time, the contractor claimed recently that it had since extinguished the balance of $1,8 million, through various works undertaken by its sub-contractors, out of the $5,1 million unsecured payments it had received.

The initial works should have been concluded inside 24 months from the date of signing of the contract on October 23, 2015, after which binding provisions of the main contract for the solar power project were to kick in.

Sharp disagreements, however, emerged between ZPC and Intratrek, which had partnered multi-billion dollar asset firm and Shanghai Stock Exchange listed CHiNT Electric, resulting in a High Court case won by Intratrek, which disputed claims by ZPC of contract breach.

High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi, in his judgment ruled in favour of Intratrek and that the contract was still valid and enforceable and ordered the feuding parties to meet within 60 days of his ruling to discuss progress and way forward regarding project implementation while declaring that a part that fails to comply would be deemed to have breached the contract.

Addressing a Zanu-PF annual national people’s conference in Esigodini earlier this month, President Mnangagwa expressed reservations over the High Court Judgment, which went in favour of Intratrek, saying he did “not understand how our courts work”, as the firm’s founder had received money but could not perform as expected.

After going through the lengthy submissions to the court by ZPC and Intratrek, Justice Chitapi ruled in his main judgment that the contract was still valid, extant and enforceable or that in the alternative ZPC should pay Intratrek $25 million damages for breach of contract.

PRAZ wrote to Intratrek on December 19, 2018 requesting information on the Gwanda solar power project in terms of the relevant law, which mandates it to monitor and supervise procuring entities and the public procurement system to ensure compliance with the law.

This comes after ZPC Acting managing director Robson Chikuri had, days earlier, written back to Intratrek saying his company was in the process of reviewing the judgment passed by the High Court in favour of the contract.

“We refer to your letter dated December 17, 2018, contents of which we have noted. We are in the process of reviewing the High Court judgment that was passed by Justice Tawanda Chitapi and will revert to you in due course,” Mr Chikuri said in his letter.

In his extensive judgment Justice Chitapi found ZPC to be guilty of frustrating the implementation of the project by failing to obtain environmental certification, instituting trumped up fraud and criminal charges against Intratrek director Wicknell Chivayo, acting unlawfully and in bad faith in trying to terminate contract — possibly under instruction of some external force against provisioned dispute resolution mechanisms.

The High Court also absolved the Intratrek of wrong doing saying the contractor was not at fault for delays to the project, which was also held up by Government’s arrears to China — a claim the ministry of Finance and Economic Development had conceded — where project funding was to be raised.

“It be and is hereby declared that procurement contract No ZPC 304/2015 dated 0ctober 23, 2015 between the applicant and respondent is valid, and binding between the parties,” Justice Chitapi ruled.

Mr Chivayo has since apologised for delays experienced in implementation of the Gwanda solar project, which is on Government’s transitional power stabilisation programme, saying he will not claim damages but seek to deliver on the project.

“As patriotic Zimbabweans, we have no intentions of benefiting from any damages. Our focus remains to implement the project . . . and feed 100MW of clean energy into the national grid for the benefit of the nation.

“ . . . I would like to also take this opportunity to sincerely apologise . . . and assure the nation that the project will be commissioned soon,” Mr Chivayo said this week.

Source : The Herald

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