Parked outside most government offices is a common sight of grounded and neglected vehicles that are wasting away.
If some of these vehicles were auctioned earlier, the government could have saved millions of kwacha needed to buy a new fleet where necessary. But who is to blame for this wastage?
Government suspects there exists a syndicate comprising some transport officers and other seniors who are frustrating the disposal of old and rundown vehicles.
In an interview, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha admitted that the practice is costing the tax-payer millions of kwacha due to the negligence to board off some of the dilapidated fleet that are left unrepaired for years.
Mwanamvekha was responding to the observations that a number of government vehicles were gathering dust and left to rot outside most offices instead of being auctioned.
According to Mwanamvekha, his office will now move in to bring sanity in the management of government vehicles.
He said: “Some of the vehicles are not even supposed to be boarded off. But what is happening is that some transport officers may ground a vehicle that is up and running and end up buying the same vehicle during an auction at a cheaper price.”
Now Treasury says it will engage the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) on how to tighten all loose ends and avoid the unnecessary financial drain on the public pulse.
Our investigations show that some of the grounded vehicles stationed at Capitol Hill, for instance, have been there for the past three years or more.
Interviews with transport officers reveal that some of the vehicles have had some of their spare parts removed and other parts vandalised.
Officials we have spoken to attribute the chaos in fleet management to change in policy by allowing ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to take government vehicles to private garages for maintenance and service. Previously, taxpayer-run Private Hire Vehicle and Engineering Services (PVHES), formally known as Private Vehicle Hire Organisation (PVHO), was responsible for maintaining the government fleet. With the current practice, the responsibility of managing government vehicles now rests with the office of the superintendent and transport officers of MDAs and PVHES is mostly by-passed.