By Blessings Chidakwa
Fifteen refuse trucks bought by Harare City Council in South Africa are stuck there almost three years on as it cannot raise over US$2 million required for their delivery.
However, there are conflicting figures on the money required for delivery of the trucks, with council claiming that US$3,3 million is needed, while the supplier is saying US$2,4 million is all that is required.
The 15 trucks are part of the 30 compactors that were bought by the local authority from automotive manufacturer, FAW Group Corporation.
Questions have been raised as to why council was not using the money it was collecting for refuse to source the foreign currency required to collect the trucks.
The acquisition of the refuse trucks has been mired in controversy after revelations that council may have already been prejudiced of about US$228 000 after it took delivery of 10 single skip trucks instead of double skip trucks it had ordered from FAW Zimbabwe.
A standard single skip truck in South Africa, where the trucks were sourced, costs about R400 000 (US$28 700), while a double skip truck costs R800 000 (US$57 500).
The city’s acting communications officer Mr Innocent Ruwende last week said money billed for refuse collection was not meant for capital projects.
“The trucks are 15 and they are with the suppliers, not at the border,” he said.
“In terms of capital projects, they are not funded by rates as there are huge figures involved.”
Mr Ruwende said council had enough Zimbabwean dollars to buy the required US dollars for delivery of the trucks which they paid to FAW Zimbabwe, but foreign currency challenges remained an issue.
“Government has been assisting us with various projects and we have been engaging it over the matter,” he said.
Asked if council was pinning hopes on a customs rebate, Mr Ruwende said, “We will only get a rebate when the trucks are at the border.”
FAW Zimbabwe operations director, Mr Patrick Masocha, confirmed council’s position.
“The arrangement was that RBZ would avail forex, but so far we have only received $900 000, which was paid for the delivery of 20 trucks that were delivered,” he said.
“The other 15 trucks are at our plant and we took council officials there to see them.”
Mr Masocha said there was no bad blood between them and Harare City Council due to the delays in the delivery of the trucks, as the situation was beyond both parties. The Herald