By Anna Chibamu
THE recently opened registry building in Harare has already developed massive cracks and is a danger to employees and visitors as it could collapse any time, it has emerged.
This came out during a hearing on the state of government-funded projects around the country by Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs Monday.
Senior officials who presented evidence blamed government’s tendency to delay the release of funds for its construction for the poor state of the building.
They said it lay idle for a long time, resulting in it developing serious structural defects..
Construction began 25 years ago in 1997 and it was set to be commissioned in the year 2000.
It was however only opened for use last year, albeit without any certification for occupancy.
“The building construction commenced in 1997 but we have had challenges. The building has water leakages; the elevators do not function; it has cracks and we worried about the safety of employees,” acting chief director for public works Mike Dzimati told the committee.
“We want to complete the project. The the construction of the building should have been completed by May 2000. Energy Private Company was contacted to do the work in a fix and supply agreement. Due to delays in funds disbursement, the physical structure of the building was completed in 2003 but due to material price escalation, material shortages and brain drain, the project stalled between 2004 and 2008. The government underfunded the project which initially was overpriced to US$23 million but was reduced to US$4 million, then revised to US$9,6 million after negotiations with the contractor,” Dzimati said.
“Delays by the Treasury in making payments led to more delays in the completion of the physical structure. This was worsened by a lack of trust in contractors who refused to use their own resources to fund the project. The building has no certificate of occupation or commission,” Dzimati told parliament.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on defence and home affairs chairperson, who is also uMzingwane legislator, Levi Mayihlome, urged government to do projects that can be funded.
“You are the experts, so prove that you are the ones by making sure these projects are done diligently,” Mayihlome said.