By Derrick Sinjela and Fulman Mukobeko
Local contractors are not lazy, protests Zambia Association of Women in Construction(ZAWIC) President Dorothy Mulwisa.
And Mrs. Mulwisa says local contractors have been given a raw deal by the Zambian Government, making Chinese peers to dominate public contracts and jobs in the construction industry.
Speaking during the Policy Monitoring Centre for Research (PMCR) and People’s Republic of China Infrastructure Development Symposium at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka, convened by PMRC Executive Director Bernadette Deka and Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Yang Youming, Mulwila said local contractors are as hardworking and diligent as Chinese countaparts.
She was responding to Engineer Earnest Nshindano who said Chinese constractors are very effective and have resources, sufficiently enough to run the project smoothly as scheduled.
Engineer Nshindano said Chinese work long hours and finish projects at supersonic speed thus clouding out local contractors.
But during a talk moderated by Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) Director Yusuf Dodhia, Mulwila said local contractors have a burning passion for work but that they have been given a raw deal by successive Zambian Governments.
She bitterly complained that the ninety-five per cent (95%) infrastructure development contracts for local contractors have been taken over by foreign contractors, due to grading, leaving a paltry five percent (5%) to Zambians.
Mulwila said ZAWIC has since petitioned the Roads Development Agency (RDA) and National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) to at least give 20% contracts to locals but nothing has been done as at Thursday 12th October 2017.
“Zambian contractors are not lazy. A person can not work from 08:00 hours hours to 22:00 hours. We are human and have to rest. We are very strong and capable of doing any project, but sidelined as we do menial jobs with questions. You find that 95 percent jobs are routine maintenance like bush clearing,” a tart Mulwila protested
“We do our best. It is just that we have been given a raw deal. Our friends(the Chinese) are doing it because their Government gives them monetary resources and technology to run a projects without any impediments.
Mulwila said it is incumbent upon Zambian Government through Infrastructure and Housing Minister Ronald Chitotela to empower citizens and entrepreneurs with resources to effectively deliver assigned projects.
And Mulwila said women, youth and the disadvantaged have been left out in the construction sector .
“The Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) Act has set aside 20 per cent jobs for women, youths and the disadvantaged but sadly this is not implemented,” Mrs Mulwila said.