December 10, 2007

ADB withholds $2.6m water funds

The African Development Bank (ADB) has withheld U$2.6 million for the Central Province water project because of Government's failure to pay the K7.6 billion counterpart funding owed to contractors China-Geo Engineering Corporation. China-Geo Engineering Corporation site manager Gu Wei Hua said that the ADB was supposed to release the U$2.6 million in October but the bank said it would only do so once Government paid the outstanding K7.6 billon it owed the contractor.
Under the U$30 million project, the ADB offered to finance 90 per cent of the works while Government was to take up the 10 per cent. Central Province minister, Ackimson Banda has in the meantime appealed to the contractor not to abandon the project, which was near completion as Government would pay him. "China-Geo Engineering Corporation has always been good to Government and I appeal to them to continue working because we shall definitely pay them. The water project in Central Province is of paramount importance to the welfare of our people and cannot be abandoned at this advanced stage," the minister said.
Mr Gu was however, worried that Government might not release the money especially that Christmas and New Year breaks were close. "We have over 1,000 permanent and casual workers to pay gratuity as well as salaries but we cannot do that if Government does not pay us. We had to borrow last month to meet salary obligations but for this month I don't know what will happen if we are not paid," Mr Gu said.
The company also had no money to pay for some of the machinery it hired to use for the rehabilitation and extension of water supply and sanitation systems in Kabwe, Kapiri-Mposhi, Mkushi, Mumbwa, Serenje, Nampundwe, Chibombo and Chisamba. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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