Zesa Holdings has come under fire for awarding tenders worth millions of dollars to a local electrical firm that is failing to deliver despite being paid handsomely.
Repeated offers of contracts to Pito Investments when it is failing to perform have raised suspicion that senior managers at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) could be conniving with the firm’s officials to milk the power utility.
This comes amid revelations that Pito Investments once won a tender to supply 30 tonnes of silica gel, but delivered “stones” and was still paid $138 000 in public funds.
Silica gel is used to prevent forming of moisture in electricity distribution transformers, and the “stones” supplied by Pito Investments did not have the properties to absorb moisture.
The Herald last week exposed the company for recently supplying wrong underground cables in a $6,8 million tender it was awarded six years ago. ZETDC had paid a $1,1 million deposit to Pito, but the firm brought 1 kilovolt cables instead of 11kv cables.
Despite that history, ZETDC went on to award the firm another $7,2 million tender for the supply of 3 000 distribution transformers and paid a deposit of $1,9 million. Pito is failing to deliver on the tender, forcing ZETDC to turn to its sister company, Zesa Enterprise, for the transformers.
ZENT is also failing to meet ZETDC requirements.
On the latest tender, ZETDC managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri confirmed receiving wrong material instead of silica gel from Pito Investments.
“Pito won a tender in 2013 for the supply of 30 tonnes of silica gel,” he said.
Payment was made for the full consignment. The 30 tonnes they delivered failed the test and they had been paid $138 000.
“The company was asked to collect its ‘silica gel’ and replace it with the correct product. They collected their product from us and are yet to replace the silica gel. Pito has produced shipping documents for 15 tonnes of silica gel which is still in transit.”
Pito managing director Mr Allex Chideme confirmed “erring on the contract”. “We have the shipping documents to replace the whole consignment we got from India,” he said.
“I can show you and the things are in Durban. We have the stocks which were rejected and the Indians have rejected them. The rejected product is at our offices in the store house.
“They did not manufacture the silica gel properly. It’s silica gel but it was not properly manufactured. We had to buy another product. Tanzwa nekurohwa nenewspaper shamwari yangu, come and let’s sit down.”
A source said the firm had delivered “stones” which did not have absorbent characteristics of silica gel. “Silica jell is granular, the size of coarse salt and blue in colour,” said the source.
“What they delivered is more like stones, which explains why it failed tests. Silica gel absorbs moisture and changes its colour from blue to white. The one supplied when it was tested it was discovered that it does not have the properties to absorb moisture. It (silica gel) is used in transformer breathers to prevent moisture entrance into the transformer. In brief, Pito’s stones did not have any absorbent characteristics.”
Added the source: “There are supposed to be tests before making any payment and what is happening leaves one to suspect that senior managers are conniving (with Pinto) and making a killing out of these contracts.
“How can you pay without being satisfied by the product? It’s also either the engineers are incompetent or procedures are not being followed somewhere somehow.”
The source said there was no need to continue awarding the contracts to Pito Investments when it was failing to deliver.