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Dora ignored advice, says airports boss

DORA (1)

THE National Airports Corporation Limited (NACL) has testified that it advised against former Minister of Communications and Transport Dora Siliya’s proposal to allow Selex Systemi Integrati to repair gratis the radar systems at Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International airports because it had hidden costs.

NACL managing director Robinson Misitala, 47, of Lusaka’s Olympia Park said his institution advised the Ministry of Communications and Transport. Mr Misitala said his advice to the ministry is contained in a letter addressed to then acting civil aviation director David Mzeka.

The NACL managing director said he was informed by Mr Mzeka that Siliya had positively responded to the free offer to repair the old radars at Selex’s cost. This is in a case in which Siliya, who is MMD Petauke Central member of Parliament, is charged with two counts of abuse of authority of office contrary to the Laws of Zambia. “On January 7, 2009, we received a letter from the Department of Civil Aviation authored by then acting director Mr Mzeka informing us that the Honourable minister then, Siliya, had positively responded to the free offer to repair the radar at Selex’s cost.

“On the same day, we prepared a response to this letter and raised some concerns and among the concerns was that the ministry should not take up the free offer from Selex and abandon the earlier suggestion of acquiring the radars using an open tender,” he said.

Mr Misitala said NAC raised the concern because former Ministry of Communications and Transport permanent secretary Eustern Mambwe had assured that money to buy the new radars was available.

He said in his response to Mr Mzeka, NACLobserved that Selex had shifted from repairing the radar systems to installing new ones. Mr Misitala said NACLalso advised that although the free offer was attractive, it had hidden costs. He said Dr Mambwe suggested that an open tender be followed for the new radar systems because the 13.7 million euros involved in the Selex commercial offer was above the ministry’s procurement threshold.

Mr Misitala said on December 11, 2008, he received a copy of a notification signed by Dr Mambwe that an award of the new supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of Zambia air traffic management surveillance radar system had been given to Thales Air Systems of France.

Mr Misitala said he received a letter dated January 26, 2009 signed by Siliya and addressed to Selex Systemi Integrati vice-president Domenico Lovino, in which the former Cabinet minister was accepting the free offer to repair the old radar systems and asking him to receive Selex officials.

He said despite offering to repair the radars freely, they started asking for extra funds and on May 19 and 22, 2009 NACL officials were called to the ministry for a meeting where the Selex team was requesting for 1.6 million euros.

Mr Misitala said Selex requested for the money on grounds that if NACL wanted the standard monitoring unit, Government would need to pay for the monitoring units. He said that then former Ministry of Communications and Transport permanent secretary Mukuka Zimba was reluctant to release the money and asked the Selex team to prepare a report on the work they had done on the airports.

Siliya is accused of directing the cancellation of a duly-awarded tender between February 20, 2008 and April 20, 2009. The tender was for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of Zambia air traffic management surveillance radar system to Thales Air Systems, whose implementation was frustrated and an act prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

Particulars in the second offence are that during the same period, in breach of laid down procedure, Siliya did accept a purportedly free offer from Selex Systemi Integrati for the repair of a radar head at Lusaka International Airport as a result of which Government actually paid K1,943,932,360, an act prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

Trial continues today, 17th July,2012.
(Source: Zambia Daily Mail)

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