GOVERNMENT should consider reducing the costs associated with getting contracts in the construction sector to allow locals to fully participate in economic development, a construction sector expert has said.
This was said by top construction industry player and ZANU-PF House of Assembly member-elect for Murehwa North constituency, Daniel Garwe in an interview last week.
Mr Garwe said the construction sector is a “low-hanging fruit” given its potential to quickly turnaround the economy through employment creation.
He, however, said it was imperative that local contractors get tenders to participate in huge construction projects since proceeds would benefit the local economic milieu.
“Construction carries what are called low-hanging fruits; it’s the quickest way to create employment and it’s the quickest way to create wealth as well,” said Mr Garwe.
“During our time when we were employees, we would go to work on Monday and by Friday you have a pay cheque and if you were a family person, you would buy you bag of fertiliser, seed and physically go or send to your rural home to prepare for the next farming season.
“That is how the construction industry dovetails with the rest of the much spoken about industries.”
Mr Garwe said employment creation was easy in the construction sector as many people swiftly respond to adverts and within five days, wealth would have been created for not only the employed, but for the wider economy.
But Mr Garwe expressed concern over the sidelining of locals in favour of foreigners within the construction sector.
“We seem not to empower ourselves. We seem to doubt ourselves because you find some funny contractors coming to take all the jobs, even the construction of a toilet block is awarded to a foreign contractor, when locals are there.
“Where tenders have been opened for locals, there stringent conditions that invariably kick away the local contractor. This is what we are fighting,” said Mr Garwe.
It is understood that local contractors are spooked by exorbitant demands particularly when they seek advance payment.
Some companies want a surety bond of up to $6 000 to be provided but many local contractor say they do not have such money.
Contractors are also required to have about $6 000 as bid security.
To obtain tender documents, a contractor also requires $100 while a non-refundable bid security of $500 is also demanded.
Mr Garwe said the monetary expectations are too lofty for local contractors, which results in deep-pocketed foreign firms landing all contracts.
He said it was also disconcerting that in the event of being unsuccessful, the bidder can only recover their money after 90 days.
“Considering the time value of money, what you can do with $5 000 now is much more than what you can do with it in five months’ time.
“So these are some of the irregularities in our industry designed to push away Zimbabweans from participating. So we are self-defeating on the policies.
“On one hand we are saying let’s empower ourselves and on the other hand we are saying let’s put this block so that they don’t cross the bridge,” said Mr Garwe.
However, some local contractors have been shunned because of poor workmanship as they focus on getting more profits and minimising on the raw materials required to come up with a top-notch product.