Tanroads Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mfugale

Tanzania Roads Agency, a government arm that regulates and oversees road construction in the country, said on Thursday that it has no information about complaints of underperformance by a French contractor—Sogea Satom—that undertakes the Namtumbo-Songea and Arusha-Minjingu roads.

Tanroads Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mfugale said he knows nothing about complaints related to the contractor. “Where and who is complaining against the poor performance,” queried Engineer Mfugale while speaking to the Daily News on Thursday.

He said he would respond to written questions on the subject, with details of where the French company is underperforming and who is complaining. But in a letter dated December 20, 2011 by Millennium Challenge Account Tanzania (MCA-Tanzania) to the contractor’s President Phillipe Chavent, MCA-Tanzania Acting CEO Pascal Assey has complained against the firm’s poor performance, saying:

“The physical progress of this construction contract has only reached about 34 percent after 18 months onsite and less than a year is remaining of the construction period. The purpose of this letter is to register the employer’s serious concern with progress on your contract.”

Mr Assey reportedly copied his letter to Engineer Mfugale and Resident Engineer of project consultants, Irish based Nicholas O’Dwyer & Company, Paul Rushton. MCA-Tanzania signed a 62bn/- contract with Sogea Saton as contractors and Nicholas O’Dwyer as consultants on the 67-kilometer Namtumbo-Songea project in June 2010.

The project is due for completion later this year. MCA-Tanzania advised the French company to consider retaining its key staff following regular changes at the helm which has affected the project. “I request that you look into these problems urgently and take all steps necessary to ensure that proper and competent management with adequate authority to make decisions is appointed for the project,” the MCA-Tanzania letter concluded.

Sogea Satom is also accused of failing to deliver in the construction of Arusha-Minjingu project which is funded by World Bank and the government. By end last month, the French company that won the 98-kilometre project for over 75bn/- last May had not started mobilizing equipment on site, sparking fears that it will not beat the 2013 deadline. The French contractor has not returned numerous phone calls and email messages sent by Daily News since last month.

By FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE, Tanzania Daily News

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