Maputo — A British organisation, Gannon Emergency Solutions (GES), which provides fire-fighting equipment and services to developing countries, has protested that the Mozambican Interior Ministry has violated the terms of an agreement under which GES supplied it with ten second hand Volvo fire engines.
A release from GES, received by AIM, says that in April 2011 it signed a contract with the Ministry, which covered the ten fire engines, a donation of 680,000 US dollars worth of fire-fighting and rescue equipment, provided free of charge by British suppliers and humanitarian agencies, six months of free professional training by specialist British instructors, and the shipping of all trucks and equipment to Maputo.
The two Mozambican officials who visited Britain and signed the contract were the Financial Director of the Interior Ministry, Antonio Tauro, and the head of the national fire brigade, Abdul Issufo.
Part of the contract was smoothly implemented – thus the Interior Ministry paid for the ten fire engines, and the shipping of all the equipment.
The GES release says that “the donors, suppliers and British High Commission intended to make a formal handover and presentation to the government in Maputo when the fire trucks and equipment arrived and begin the certified training immediately after”.
But there was no such handover – instead the fire engines were distributed across Mozambique, and no arrangements were made for the training, which GES says was not an add-on, but an integral part of the contract.
Although the training itself is free, the Mozambican authorities would have to pay for the instructors’ air tickets and local accommodation. GES says that the training arrangements had been agreed with Tauro, and so the instructors reserved accommodation in Maputo and confirmed flights to Mozambique so that they could begin the training in January 2012.
The government bodies in Britain that employed the instructors gave them leave so that they could spend six months training fire-fighters in Mozambique. But no money for the tickets arrived, and GES says that Tauro did not reply to “multiple requests to address the problem or provide an explanation. All that we have received are occasional excuses relayed via the British High Commission”.
The GES release stresses “It was made very clear to the British High Commission and to the Ministry from the outset that the valuable donation of equipment was subject to the training that accompanied it. The objective of the UK donors is to provide world class tools to the fire-fighters along with qualifications to safely use them”.
“Everyone involved in the project in the UK is extremely disappointed that the government apparently seized the opportunity to acquire a very valuable package of aid without ever intending to accept the training element stipulated in the contract”, added GES.
Furthermore, during his visit to Britain, Tauro requested a further two fire engines and equipment, and GES duly issued an invoice. The equipment was reserved for Mozambique, but no payment was forthcoming.
Contacted by the independent weekly “Savana”, Tauro denied that he had requested two additional vehicles, and said he only knew about the ten fire engines mentioned in the contract.
However, GES has published the invoice it sent to Tauro for the two vehicles and the shipping and administration costs, totalling 76,300 US dollars.
Tauro said he did not know why the training had been delayed, but he believed it would soon take place and reiterated the Ministry’s promise to pay for the instructors’ travel and accommodation costs.
Tauro added that the vehicles were purchased “to meet some emergency situations”, and so had been immediately dispatched to fire brigade units in various parts of the country, which made it impossible to hold a formal handover ceremony.