Felex Share Senior Reporter
The Zesa pre-paid meter tender for the supply of an additional 150 000 units has sparked furore after the power utility tightened specifications for the contract, much to the disgruntlement of local companies.
The specifications were tightened to avoid a repeat of the 2011 tender which saw Zesa losing millions of dollars after some of the contractors supplied faulty meters.
Zesa has been losing more than $10 million every month due to power theft and defects on the pre-paid meters supplied by ZTE from China, Nyamazela of South Africa and local firms Finmark and Solahart.
It emerged during last Friday’s pre-bid meeting that most of the 83 prospective bidders for the new tender will not be able meet the new specifications.
The meeting was for Zesa and the State Procurement Board to give clarifications on the tender and to answer questions and queries pertaining to the tender.
Some of the companies now claim that the 30-day period they were given to prepare bids and samples is inadequate, adding that the tightening of the specifications was meant to suit certain suppliers.
Only four companies would be enlisted for the contract.
“It takes more than six weeks to have samples shipped into the country by manufacturers, but we were given close to 30 days to do that,” said one bidder.
“The way the specifications are done also shows that someone, somewhere, already has the job.”
In response, Zesa said to avoid leakages, the pre-paid meters should be of “the highest quality and standard.”
“The technical specification for the tender has been crafted to address the challenges experienced with current pre-paid meters and also to address business requirements and strategic priorities,” said Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira in a written response.
“The technical specification is not in any way designed to suit any manufacturer’s meter. Bidders offering meters, complying with the specification stand equal chances of winning the tender, depending on the competitiveness of their bids.”
Mr Gwasira said the power utility was looking into the request by bidders to extend the time for preparing bids. He said the move to add 150 000 meters was to cater for areas not yet on the prepayment system.
To date, Zesa has installed more than 537 000 prepaid meters countrywide which have seen the power utility boosting its revenue and raking in $25 million monthly from its customers.
This is against a target of 800 000 meters espoused in the Government economic blue print, Zim-Asset.