Local contractors have accused the government of single sourcing a favored Chinese company to construct six major road projects in the country without observing tender procedures.
An official within the Medium and Small Scale Contractors Association (MSCA) has accused a named prominent Zambian of being linked to the company, which has been awarded lucrative contracts irregularly.
In one case a minister acknowledged that a road contract was being awarded to a Chinese firm on superior instructions.
“We are aware the company has direct links to the top, that is why we are scared to speak out because our businesses will suffer. What is happening is not fair to us and the nation because a lot of money is being externalized,” he said.
He disclosed that the Chinese firm was working on very major roads in Northwestern province and Lusaka among other parts of the country.
“We as local contractors are not recognised anymore, the Ministry of Local Government openly tell us that they have instructions to award jobs to Chinese firms,” he said.
Meanwhile the National Council for Contractor (NCC) has expressed concern over the continued awarding of major contracts to foreign firms.
NCC executive director Engineer Charles Mushota said the rate at which foreign firms were being awarded local major contracts was worrisome.
Mr Mushota has since called for a stakeholder meeting to try and resolve the matter.
“As NCC executive director I am very worried and I have written to all the stake holders so that we can have a meeting to discuss why local contractors in our country are not benefiting from government major contracts,” Mr Mushota said.
Mr Mushota observed that the foreigners always went away with the money to their countries.
“These foreign firms run away with all the resources to their countries after working on major projects in the country,” he said.
“As of April 22, 2014 we had a total of 3,095 both local and foreign construction firms registered with NCC and only 5 per cent were foreign firms,” Mr Mushota explained.
He said out of that number, over 2,000 Zambian contractors were graded in categories 5 and 6 which did not allow them to handle major projects.
He also observed that most of the local construction companies already registered with NCC were being sold off to foreigners without consulting the council.
“We have a situation where local contractors have been selling their firms to foreigners and are being given licenses by PACRA and the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission,” Mr Mushota said.
He said that was why the council decided to write to all the stakeholders for a meeting to try and bring sanity to the industry.
“This situation has created a very unfair competition between the local and foreign firms in the construction industry,” Mr Mushota said.
Mr Mushota further said the Council would soon change the registration process with the aim of empowering local contractors.
“We need a situation where everything becomes fair to all the contractors so that they can compete favorably,” he said.
Mr Mushota said he was determined to see sanity in the construction industry after a round table meeting with all the stakeholders.