Contractor shifts gear up to complete civil servants’ flats

The Chronicle

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief

FACED with financial challenges, some contractors halt or abandon projects in a huff, but Pevimag Contractors, has broken that tradition by getting a $45 million loan from a local bank to make sure that flats for civil servants being constructed in Gweru are completed within the set timeframe.

Pevimag Contractors won a tender to construct four, three story blocks of flats in Senga suburb, Gweru.

The company started the Senga Messengers Camp Flats project in project in February and did site clearing, foundation (which is three metres deep for each flat), plinth beam or slab, superstructure, brick masonry work, the lintel among other works.

Workers work on the first floor of the Senga Messengers Camp Flats project

Pevimag Contractors has started working on raising the first floor on two flats.

However, with financial challenges bedevilling Pevimag Contractors because of late payments by the Government, the company borrowed $45 million to fund the projects while waiting for its payment.

Pevimag Contractors has two outstanding payments from June which they are still to receive which is the reason why they have gone out of their way to borrow money so that the project doesn’t stop.

This was heard by members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government Public Works and National Housing led by Miriam Chikukwa during the tour of project site in Senga.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, Engineer Joy Pedzisai Makumbe and other senior officials from the Ministry joined parliamentarians on tour.

Last year, President Mnangagwa launched the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy, a medium-term programme envisaged to drive national housing development.

Housing delivery is one of the 14 national priorities under the National Development Strategy (NDS1).

The key result area for the housing thematic area is the delivery of affordable and quality settlements in urban and rural areas.

To reduce the national backlog, Government, the private sector and individuals are working together to make this an achievable feat.

At the Senga Messengers Camp, four blocks of flats are under construction.

An additional four blocks will be constructed by the department of Public Works which won the tender.

The blocks will accommodate 64 families.

Pevimag Contractors managing director Mr Peter Manjengwa said construction started in February.

“We started in February and the site was muddy because it was raining very much. These four blocks you see are all sitting on bases which are three metres deep and that means they are of good quality in terms of durability and they are also sitting on beams. We have managed to get to the first floor deck level on all the four. We have started working on the first floor on two flats,” he said.

However, Mr Manjengwa said the journey hasn’t been a walk in the park.

“We have been facing financial challenges emanating from late payments by the Ministry of Finance. We raise paper work and we are told that there is “parking”. We are told it’s the period when our paper work reaches the Ministry of Finance for payment and it takes a lot of time,” he said.

Asked by Mberengwa East legislator and member of the committee, Cde Marko Raidza how much Pevimag Contractors had borrowed to keep the project going, Mr Manjengwa said:

“We have two outstanding payments from the Government and to ensure that work proceeds at this site, we got a loan of $45 million. So when we receive payment from Government, we use some of the money to service the loan. This is just to show commitment to the national cause.

We want to show that local private players can complement the Government’s initiative in availing more houses for the people under National Development Strategy (NDS 1).”

He said they used to have a staff complement of 150 employees on site but because of late payments, they are now left with only 50 employees.

“We want this project to work, we want to meet the November deadline and that is why we had to go to the bank to borrow. We know our money will come from the Government but the challenge is on time. If only they could push such payments so that we always have resources at our disposal to push for the completion of the project,” he said.

Cde Chikukwa commended Pevimag Contractors for a job well-done.

“We are actually impressed that a private player is doing wonders on the back of late payments by the Ministry of Finance. We are going to call the contractor to Parliament and give evidence. We also intend on calling the Ministry of Finance so that the issue is addressed. When we have committed private players like Pevimag, they must be supported by all means,” she said.

On the other site, she said the department of Public Works still has a lot to do.

The department which won the tender for the same number of flats is still to build a single structure from February citing financial challenges.

The department was given $2,8 million which they used to put some cabins only.

“We are concerned that the Public Works has only put a structure which is said to have cost $2,8 million and acquittals were done. We had wanted a situation where Pevimag and Public Works are both working on their sites so that come November, all eight flats are completed,” said Cde Chikukwa.

Engineer Makumbe said they are pushing for a situation in which Government can make payments to contractors in both US dollars and RTGs so that they remain viable.

She said they don’t want a situation where projects are abandoned because of late payments by the Government.

“We commend Pevimag for going out of its way, it’s really commendable but as a Ministry we want to ask the relevant Ministry if possible to start making double payments that is in both US dollars and the local currency.

Be it 50/50 or 30/70, we will be grateful if contractors get part payment in US dollars so that they remain viable,” said Engineer Makumbe.

She said once completed, the eight flats will accommodate over 64 families.

Engineer Makumbe said one of the blocks to be constructed by the Public Works will have five floors so that it accommodates social amenities such as shops.

“The provision of houses to the people is in line with NDS1,” she said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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