Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Chinese firm yet to start airport job 7 months after winning contract

A controversial Chinese firm, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), that won a multi-million-dollar contract to fix Zimbabwe’s Air Traffic Control Communication Systems (ATCCS) seven months ago is yet to commence work.

CHEC signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) under murky circumstances seven months ago.

The Standard this week reported that some senior government officials were blaming the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) of delaying the release of the money required to fund the project.

According to the contract signed between the two parties, CHEC was supposed to supply and install air traffic control communication systems at a cost of US$4,810,177 and accessories that would cost US$87,163, bringing the total to close to US$5 million.

CHEC was, however, reported to have a tainted history during the awarding of the lucrative project amid blacklists and bribery reports in some countries.

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At the negotiation stage, it was also revealed that the contract hit some humps when CHEC insisted on getting its payment once it had delivered the specified communication products required to revamp the aviation system, while CAAZ argued that the Chinese company must install the equipment to ensure it worked, and this carried the day.

Transport ministry permanent secretary Thedius Chinyanga told the Standard in an interview that the project was within the agreed time frame but blamed the central bank for delaying disbursement of funds.

He exonerated CHEC from blame saying the company did not “contract itself,” but was waiting for its Zimbabwean partners to fulfil their end of the bargain.

“In any contract, there are two parties. In any event, so far CHEC has performed according to the dictates of the contract. They have signed the contract.

“They have provided a bank guarantee for the contractually provided advance payment.

“They have caused commencement of manufacture of the equipment, which is not an off the shelf equipment.

“This will be followed by client experts travelling to China next year for a quality assurance mission,” said the ministry’s top bureaucrat.