Ray Bande, Senior Reporter
SHODDY workmanship in the reconstruction of Cyclone Idai-damaged infrastructure — which has seen some structures developing wide cracks even before completion — has opened a can of worms with a litany of corruption allegations against a high-profile company.
Masimba Construction, one of the companies contracted to repair bridges and roads post-Idai , has drawn the ire of people in the resort area who are now questioning the company’s credentials in the wake of poor craftsmanship in almost all areas it was carrying out reconstruction works.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Masimba Construction were fruitless after project manager Mr Anywhere Dingembira promised to comment on Wednesday afternoon after consultations with senior management but his mobile phone later became unreachable.
However, allegations of cement and fuel being stolen from the company and sold to the public by Masimba Construction workers are no longer a secret in Chimanimani.
So deep-seated is the Chimanimani residents’ anger against Masimba Construction workers that they are now finding it difficult to socialise without being subjected to scorn and assault in public spaces.
A visit to the area early this week also revealed that the structures being put up by Masimba Construction in various parts of the district do not tally with the “Build Back Better” principle as espoused by the central authority.
Chimanimani district development coordinator Mr Joseph Manyurapasi confirmed receiving numerous complaints over poor workmanship on projects carried out by Masimba Construction.
“It is unfortunate that I am still new here but I can confirm that I have received numerous complaints relating to the projects that were constructed by Masimba Construction.
“As a district we feel that our contractors must work as stated in their contracts. This issue has been raised by different stakeholders within the district. What we have done is that we have invited the focal person who represents the responsible ministry. They pledged to look into issue and find a solution,” said Mr Manyurapasi.
Traditional leaders interviewed by this newspaper expressed dismay over Masimba Construction slapdash effort.
Chief Raymond Saurombe, whose area of jurisdiction covers part of Chimanimani Urban, just like his counterparts chiefs Ngorima and Chikukwa, said: “We really have a serious problem with this Masimba Construction way of doing things.
Their structures are not durable at all. We have gathered that their workers are selling cement meant for construction and substituting it with soil in their mixture.
“We also gathered that they even sold fuel meant for errands and other works. They do not source river sand from Save River like other companies operating here. They use soil that looks like river sand hence the structures are not strong at all.”
Chief Walter Chikukwa said: “We are actually wondering how that company was given a contract to work here when they have shown us that they are not equal to the task. If you look at almost all the structures that they put up, most of them are already developing cracks. It is sad. It is bringing shame to the whole effort of resuscitating infrastructure here in Chimanimani.”
Village head Mrs Elizabeth Mutingwende called for the cancellation of Masimba Construction contact on the basis of failure to meet client expectations.
“I think it is clear to everyone, including us who come from relatively remote Rusitu area that Masimba Construction has failed to meet client expectations. Therefore, corrective action has to be taken even if it means cancelling their contract and replacing them with companies that can give us a better deal,” she said.