- Parly wants company to return M36 million
By Billy Ntaote
MASERU — Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wants the Nthane Brothers to refund government a whopping M36 million and be blacklisted from state construction jobs as punishment for substandard work.
The verdict comes in the wake of the long-running dispute between the Brothers’ firm, Lesotho Consolidated Civil Construction (LCCC) and Ministry of Public Works, over the building of a 27-kilometre road stretching from Ha Cheche to Matšooana on the Likalaneng to Thaba-Tseka highway.
The ministry has since ordered the LCCC to stop the road-works after accusing the company of failing to meet conditions of the contract.
But the PAC now wants the return of M36 million which the government advanced to the LCCC in two tranches of M15 million and M21 million for the job.
The LCCC had been expected to have completed the job in August 2010 but four years later, the firm is “ostensibly going on with its substandard work”, according to the PAC report tabled before parliament on Tuesday this week.
The Committee has recommended the Ministry of Public Works principal secretary Lebohang Phooko to “institute recovery processes through legal means”, and for the LCCC not to be awarded government contracts for a certain period as punishment for shoddy work and threatening supervising engineers.
“As much as we appreciate and encourage the engagement of local contractors on government projects, we cannot condone threats to supervisors because they can compromise construction standards,” the committee noted in the report.
The PAC also wants the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences to investigate how the company was advanced the said amount following a recommendation by cabinet.
The Committee also said it learnt that three engineers abandoned their supervision because of threats by people suspected to be connected to the LCCC.
“These threats included a grenade put under their vehicle, threatening phone call, and deliberate collision of the contractors’ truck with the engineers’ vehicle over Mantšonyane Bridge.”
The committee further said the LCCC, even after termination of the contract in 2012 due to failure to comply with contractual obligations, is still continuing with the construction of the road without supervision “under the pretext that it has a Court Order”.