25 April 2014

Zambia: 1,510 ZRL Wagons Missing

MORE than 1,510 wagons valued at K31.4 million are missing following the termination of the concession agreement between the Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) and the Zambia Railways Limited in September 2012, the latest Auditor General's report has said.

The audit on accounts of Parastatal bodies also indicated that the ZRL owned various assets valued at K39.3 million, which were not insured as of December 2013.

The report released in Lusaka yesterday indicated that during the period of the concession, the ZRL handed over a total of 5,685 wagons to the RSZ but that when the concession was terminated, it was discovered that 1,510 wagons were unaccounted for.

The Anna Chifungula audit report revealed that an additional 59 coaches were missing from a total 83 that were handed over to RSZ during the transaction period between 2003 and 2012.

The report said at the termination of the agreement, the RSZ handed back 24 coaches to ZRL leaving the balance of the 59.

There was also an irregular hire of five locomotives to a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) company called Societe Nationale Des Chemins De Fer Du Congo (SNCC), out of 56 that were handed over by ZRL to the Congo-based company.

"However, at the time of audit, in May 2013, eight months after the termination of the concession agreement, the locomotives were still in DRC. There was no evidence that ZRL benefited from the use of the locomotives by SNCC during the eight months period," Ms Chifungula said.

The report added that during the concession period, four GT 36 locomotive engines, which needed attention were dispatched to General Electric Company of the United States of America, under an arrangement where they were exchanged with reconditioned engines.

Ms Chifungula said it was however observed that whereas the engines sent to the US based company, were 3,600 horse-power with a load capacity of 1,800 metric tonnes, the reconditioned engines were of 3,000 horse-power and a lesser load capacity of 1,500 metric tonnes.

She said inquiries with management revealed that the action resulted in a total loss of 2,400 horse-power which was equivalent to a new U20 locomotive engine costing K10.3 million.

The report also indicated that senior government officials and board members acquired commercial plots on stand number 2057 in Livingstone valued at K154,000, contrary to a resolution that ordinary employees would be the beneficiaries.

"Although in response, management stated that the sale of the plots to senior government officials and board members was a directive by the Board at the time, no evidence to that effect was availed for audit as of December 2013," Ms Chifungula said.

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