A SCAM has been unearthed in which hundreds of bags of cement for the ongoing Itezhi-Tezhi hydropower project have been diverted by truck drivers in connivance with some police officers in Mumbwa District.
Two trucks carrying different quantities of the building material were last week impounded in Mumbwa on their way to Itezhi-Tezhi after word went round that the commodity was being sold near the cotton ginnery.
The cement is being transported from Chilanga and Lusaka to Itezhi-Tezhi in Central Province for the Itezhi-Tezhi hydropower plant which is being constructed by Sino Hydro.
However, investigations by the Sunday Times revealed that some consignment found its way on the open market before reaching the intended destination.
On Thursday, a Volvo truck registration number ALE 5413 and trailer number ALH 48T belonging to Lusaka-based Agro Fuel was impounded and its driver, Lazarous Mwale, arrested.
This was after officers discovered that the commodity was being sold to villagers. Another truck is said to have managed to offload and left.
Central Province Police Chief Lombe Kamukoshi refused to comment, saying she was currently not in the province. However, Mumbwa District Commissioner Charles Hampende told the Sunday Times that 13.9 tonnes of cement had been sold to villagers by the driver of the truck.
“It is true there was a truck that was taking cement to Itezhi-Tezhi for the electricity project by Sino Hydro,” Mr Hampende said.
“But when it reached the ginnery in Mumbwa, the driver packed at the lay-by and started selling the cement to villagers, but the police were tipped and they rushed and apprehended him and he is currently in the (police) cells.”
Mr Hampende said all the cement that had been sold had been recovered and brought to the police station where the truck was also packed.
Sources said that this was not the first time that some cement had been offloaded on its way to either Itezhi-Tezhi or Mongu where the road projects are going on.
“Senior police officers in Mumbwa are culprits because they have also benefited from this scam. In fact, they even use prisoners to take cement to their homes,” the sources said.
Officers from the Office of the President are said to have been dispatched to deal with the matter after reports that some senior police officers were involved in the scam.
However, Mr Hampende said it would be difficult for him to point fingers at any of the police officers because the driver was the one who had been arrested.
Sino Hydro, a Chinese State company, is currently constructing the 120-mega watts Itezhi-Tezhi hydroelectric power plant at US$250 million.
SYLVESTER MWALE – Times