THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has taken a swipe at consultants who defend shoddy road works, alleging collusion with incompetent contractors was costing the public huge amounts of money.
Speaking when the committee inspected the 104km of D104/D791 Chipata-Mfuwe Road, committee member, who is also Milenge MP Mwansa Mbulakulima, said consultants must desist from defending shoddy road works and safeguard the nation’s meagre public resources .
The road showed portions of failure, prompting Nkana MP Alexander Chiteme to ask an official from BCHOD Consulting to rate the company’s own performance on the road on a scale of 1-5, to which the consultant responded; “ 4.5”.
“For you to come and tell us 4.5, it’s actually like you are telling us off…that we don’t know what we are doing. We take great exception to that. This is serious business. It’s not a laughing matter. So you should be serious,” Mr Mbulakulima said.
The committee was infuriated with the response, with Mr Mbulakulima stating the members took great exception to responses that suggested that the consultant thought the committee did not know what it was doing.
Mr Mbulakulima said the consultant should be humble enough to show remorse where they were found wanting and make good of the defects in their work instead of defending the shoddy works.
Acting PAC chairperson, who is Choma MP Cornelius Mweetwa, said it was sad that some consultants were busy shielding contractors from criticism of their substandard works.
Mr Mweetwa said the only reason a consultant would take the contractors’ side in a case where the work was clearly of poor quality would be because they were the ones certifying the job.
He wondered why there seemed to be collusion between the contractor and the consultant to the extent that it was difficult to distinguish between the two roles when it came to taking responsibility for poor work.
The Choma MP urged the RDA to raise the levels of supervision of consultants on the road projects to minimise cases of below-standard road works.
Mr Mweetwa commended the Auditor General’s office for working hard in highlighting the irregularities road projects, saying many of the issues raised in the report had been confirmed by the committee through the inspections conducted.
He encouraged the Auditor General to continue being the eyes of the people by ensuring that there was prudent use and accountability of all public resources, even those going into infrastructure development.
Mr Mweetwa said the committee was pleased that the report did not only highlight financial compliance, but that it went beyond and incorporated the value-for-money aspect.