By Daniel Chigundu
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) was duped in excess of US$200 000 in a botched ambulance deal by a Harare company, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has revealed.
A tender was awarded to a local supplier for the supply of ambulances amounting to US$205 106 during the year ended December 31, 2010. The supplier was paid in advance.
According to PAC, as at December 31, 2013, the ambulances in question had not been received and in addition, vehicle trackers amounting to US$100 000 were paid for in advance and had not been delivered to Council at the time of audit in 2014.
In its report to the National Assembly, PAC said the supplier disappeared with the money and efforts to locate him have proven fruitless.
“The Acting Town Clerk informed the Committee that the contract with the supplier, Axis Medical Corporation Limited, was for four (4) ambulances and was done through a Municipality Procurement Board (MPB). Most suppliers at that time were requesting for advance payment since they did not have capital and half of the amount which is the amount in question was paid.
“The supplier disappeared and the Council pursued the matter in the courts and got a judgment under case No. HC231/2011 to recover the actual amount from the supplier. Efforts to execute the judgment were fruitless after they found the offices in Harare deserted and engagement of trackers did not yield any results.
“Regarding vehicle trackers, they awarded the contract and they paid an advance against a bank guarantee. However, the supplier disappeared and they pursued the case in the civil courts and they again had the judgement but the supplier, Trackat, also from Harare had as well vanished,” said the PAC report.
The committee expressed concern over the maladministration at city council after it deliberately did not call on the bank guarantee until it expired.
“The city did not call on the bank guarantee until the period expired. The procurement policy allows them to pay in advance for bank guaranteed purchases.
“Again, the Committee noted with concern the level of maladministration in the City of Bulawayo demonstrated by failure by officials to follow up a Bank guarantee until it expired.
“This was recourse, in respect of Track at Company, a supplier of vehicle trackers who was paid and eventually failed to deliver the goods,” PAC said.
The Committee recommended that by 30 March, 2017, the Council should institute disciplinary action against the officials responsible for the transactions for negligent of duty.