Nssa bypasses regulations to complete hotel

IN what could be a violation of the country’s construction regulations, the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) signed its own Practical Completion Certificate (PCC) to facilitate the opening of its controversial US$49 million Rainbow Beitbridge Hotel, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Herbert Moyo

According to sources in the construction industry, the PCC is an important document which every local authority requires before issuing a certificate of occupation especially to public buildings like the Nssa hotel before opening to the public. These will also ensure that the architect is liable for any defects in the building.

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“However, in the case of Nssa, this did not happen as they had fired the project architect, Daniel Mandishona who was supposed to have issued the PCC.

“The PCC was eventually unprocedurally signed by Allen Khatso who is a Nssa employee and was in fact Nssa’s real estate manager at the time,” said an employee at Nssa who preferred anonymity.

Nssa chairman Robin Vela did not respond to calls to his mobile phone as well as text messages to his phone. Calls to the Nssa offices did not yield results as officials were repeatedly said to be out of office.

On Tuesday, Mandishona told the Independent that he never issued Nssa with the PCC “because they terminated our contract as soon as the building was completed.”

According to sources, Mandishona was fired by former general manager James Matiza for repeatedly questioning the decision to turn the contractor CZL’s (formerly Costain Zimbabwe Limited) contract into a labour only contract.

This meant that CZL would only provide manpower while Nssa purchased materials for the construction although initially the contract had been for CZL to supply materials and construct the hotel.

The Nssa sources say the variation in the contract was done so that the pension fund could bring in their preferred companies to supply building materials with suggestions that this facilitated improper payments to for shoddy or incomplete work.

Some of these companies which supplied materials include Lithenham Investments and Drawcard Investments. Nssa lost US$44 million in hotel construction costs.

“US$900 000 was paid to Drawcard for the simple task of moving rock debris just a kilometre from the construction site. The payment was more than what the same company had been paid to blast the rock at the construction site.

“How would moving rubble be more expensive than the actual work of blasting the bedrock,” the source asked rhetorically.

“Just talk to Nssa,” was all a Drawcard official could say when asked to comment yesterday.

Nssa also lost US$40 000 which was an advance payment to Lithenham Investments who subsequently failed to provide shower screens for the hotel as agreed in the contract.

“Lithenham Investments were paid for nothing as their single shower screen sample was condemned by the architect (Daniel) Mandishona’s DMA Architects Company,” said the source.

During his tenure at Nssa, Matiza admitted to this paper that there were irregularities surrounding the hotel construction and added Nssa would take legal action to recover whatever it had lost to different companies but up to now nothing has been recovered, the sources said.

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