Foreign contractors should be truthful
Published On February 28, 2018 » 1692 Views» By Evans Musenya Manda » Features
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THE Government is right by voicing its grave concern at the tendency by some if not all the foreign contractors, who have not heeded the call of awarding a certain percentage of infrastructure contracts to deserving local contractors.
This trend has been going on for a long time now defeating the Government’s well-intended policy of creating jobs for the many unemployed Zambians mostly the youth.
While the argument in some quarters has been that of poor workmanship by some local contractors, the point is that not all the local contractors have performed poorly.
It is only a few that have disappointed but by far, most local firms have performed well in so far as infrastructure development is concerned.
A number of health and educational infrastructure including roads scattered around the country especially in rural areas, have mostly been done by the locals and in many instances, no one has raised a finger to accuse them of poor performance.
Similarly, not all the foreign contractors have performed to expectations of the Government and this could be seen from the way some roads have been done.
Most roads that have been done in the last three years or so, have opened up, casting doubts on the credibility of foreign contractors behind the works.
We, therefore, concur with Special Assistant to the President for Project Implementation Andrew Chellah for having spoken out clearly on this matter.
Mr Chellah, who is in Vubwi, Eastern Province, checking on the ongoing construction of the K13 million district hospital there, has spoken at the right time when local contractors have been complaining about the state of affairs in the construction industry.
The Special Assistant is said to be unhappy with some foreign firms awarded major infrastructure contracts that are not willing to give at least 20 per cent of their contracts to the locals.
Foreign firms have even denied the local firms basic works such as building drainages and other elementary construction jobs attached to the main contract.
This tendency as Mr Chellah has pointed out is indeed frustrating government efforts of empowering the locals which in turn, can generate jobs for the local people especially in rural areas.
These foreign firms do not understand that ordinary people can misunderstand the good will of the Government they elected into power if they continue with this trend.
Government should follow up this trend immediately and deal with such foreign contractors who are not willing to work closely with local contractors.
The Government should do something or even come up with a Statutory Instrument (SI) to compel foreign contractors to give up a certain percentage of the project to the locals.
On the other hand, local contractors should raise the bar by building enough capacity to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts otherwise they risk losing out on the many infrastructure development projects currently on offer around the country.

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