Harare cancels US$465K biogas contract

HARARE City Council (HCC)

HARARE City Council (HCC) has cancelled the US$465 290 Mbare biogas digester contract awarded to Synlak (Pvt) Ltd after the company failed to complete the project within set timelines.

In December 2013, the local authority received a grant from the European Union under the non-State actors funding for the construction of a 100-kilowatt biogas project in Mbare, meant to convert vegetable waste from the Mbare Musika vegetable market into biogas.

After awarding the contract to Synlak (Pvt) Ltd in September 2015, council signed a memorandum of agreement for the design and construction of four biogas digesters and the supply, installation and  commissioning of a 100kVA biogas generator.

Appearing before joint Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Energy and Power Development and Environment, acting town clerk Phakamile Mabhena-Moyo said they cancelled the contract because the contractor failed to meet set timelines.

“The contractor failed to perform his obligations at the agreed timelines and the implementation period was extended by mutual consent. The contractor was paid in full (US$465 290) for the execution of the contract between the period September 17, 2015 to June 17, 2016. The contractor again failed to perform his obligations as per the revised timelines,” he said.

Mabhena-Moyo said in June 2017, the chamber secretary wrote to the contractor giving them notice to remedy the breach of contract within 14 days from the date of the receipt of the notice.

“The contractor failed to rectify the breach, leaving council with no option, but to cancel the contract. The acting town clerk wrote to the contractor on January 2, 2018 advising him of the cancellation of the contract.

“The city architect carried out an assessment of the work done against payments made, which established that the total value of the work done was US$243 535, suggesting an overpayment of US$221 755.”

He told the committees that the chamber secretary was further advised by the director of works to recover the overpayment, which led to the cancellation of the contract since there had been no meaningful progress on site since August 2017.

“The contractor wrote to council in February 2018 after the cancellation of the contract indicating that the major component required to ensure completion of the project was now in the country and requested to be granted an opportunity to complete the project.

“A pre-arbitration meeting was held with the contractor on April 30, 2018, where it was agreed that the contractor would be given a chance to submit a proposal leading to the conclusion of the project.

“A proposal by the contractor was received at the department of works on October 4, 2018. In their proposal, the contractor requested a price variation and a period of 45 days to complete the project,” Mabhena-Moyo said.

The project was meant to help tackle the waste management challenges in the populous high-density area of Mbare and surrounding environs.

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