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Zambia Railways tech contract rattles govt

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Zambia , 27 Nov 2015

Zambia Railways tech contract rattles govt

Zambia's Minister of Communications and Transport Kapembwa Simbao has called for a comprehensive audit of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), specifically into how funds from contracts have been spent.

Simbao said all projects ventured into by the transport company, including the controversial telecommunications and signalling contract using the $120 million Euro Bond involving Huawei Technologies and South African PC assembler and distributor Mustek Limited, will be subjected to the audit.

In 2014 ZRL signed a contract involving the supply and delivery of R128 million worth of Huawei's signalling and telecommunications equipment through Mustek to a consortium incorporating Huawei International, Bombardier Transportation and GMC Technologies Zambia Limited.

The consortium planned to provide a technology upgrade for ZRL at a cost of $51 million.

In June this year, Muyenga Atanga was fired as CEO of ZRL over the contract, which the board considered excessive.

Atanga has refuted the board's claim that $51 million was spent on the project and said that only $8.8 million was used because the signalling component of the project did not proceed as scheduled due to non-availability of funds.

In correspondence to the then Minister of Communications and Transport Yamfwa Mukanga in May this year Atanga said the figure of $51 million was a projected sum and the company planned to implement the project over a two-year period, adding that the implementation would be on a "available cash basis".

This proposal was rejected by the contractors forcing ZRL to fulfil only one part of the project.

Amid accusations of financial misappropriation at the transport company, Minister Simbao said management at the railway company should have ensured that the funds were properly utilised. "We will therefore audit all the projects the company ventured into to see how the funds were spent," he added.

The minister has not stated what further action would be taken should evidence of misappropriation come to light.

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