Maputo — A building company which won the contract to build a prison in Chiure district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, has abandoned the job after taking 13 million meticais (about 435,000 US dollars) from the government.
According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, the contract was awarded to Hector Construcoes, a company based in Maputo, in 2010. A new prison was to be built that would accommodate 300 inmates - although Chiure is the most populous district in the province, its current prison has the capacity to hold no more than 50 people (but regularly 80 to 100 people are crammed into its cells).
Three years later, all that exists is the walls, and these are of poor quality. The contractor's use of improper building materials means that large cracks have appeared in the walls.
Not only did Hector Construcoes abandon the unfinished prison, it also abandoned its workers. 39 workers in Chiure have gone without their wages for the last 15 months (the total owing to the workers is over 2.2 million meticais). Not surprisingly, they have been protesting to the local authorities demanding payment.
The total cost of the prison should have been 14 million meticais - and the government paid 13 million (93 per cent) up front.
The Chiure district government was not consulted about the choice of contractor, It says that when Hector Construcoes began work, the company's lack of seriousness was obvious - but the district's hands were tied, because the supervisory company, which should have dealt with the problem, was also based in Maputo,
Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Nkutumula visited the prison last Friday and was angered at what he saw. He promised the government would do all in its power to track down the owner of Hector Construcoes and hold him accountable for his acts.
“13 million out of the 14 meticais necessary for this job were paid, so only a million meticais was left to be disbursed”, he said. “It's impossible to believe that this money was used to build what we have seen”.
“This is unacceptable”, declared Nkutumula. “This is a complete failure to comply with the contract. We will do all we can to find this contractor - even if he is in South Africa”.