Local engineers have now assumed control of installing radio and television transmitters in Chikombedzi as the government pushes to complete digital migration. This comes as result of Government parted ways with Chinese contractors two years ago because of a misunderstanding on the cost of the project. The government underestimated the cost of the project while the Chinese overestimated the cost.
Last month, the government allotted $6 million to the construction of transmission sites nationwide. As of now, projects in Kamativi, Manjolo in Binga, Kenmaur in Lupane and Chibondo in Hwange have been successfully completed and radio signals have already been activated in these places. As much as $103 million is still needed to buy other transmitters and devices for the promised 24 new stations.
The cost variation is being attributed to unforeseen complications in the geomorphology (physical features of the surface of the earth) of the areas where the transmitters will be installed. The area is characterized by igneous rocks which are considered to be very hard. Touring the Chikombedzi transmission site, George Charamba said;
“If you look at this particular site, it deceptively gives you an idea that it is all sandy soil yet in fact, beneath this apparent flatness there is very strong igneous rock. We really did not anticipate that this is what lies beneath this geomorphological site which is why both the contractor and ourselves underestimated what it would take to prepare this site.”
Accordingly, the misunderstanding with the Chinese seems to have stemmed from the fact that the Chinese were demanding more money because of the unexpected hard rocks they encountered whilst they installed transmitters.
But how come did the Chinese start the project without making a study of the area? I very much doubt they did a study of the physical feature of the land. If they had done a study they would have surely known the physical features of the area before they made a quotation of the project. Or if they did a study beforehand, I’m sure they didn’t do it thoroughly.
Anyway, parting with the Chinese engineers was a good thing in some way since government reduced its labor bill significantly as they had to pay them using foreign currency rather than paying local engineers using cheap bond notes.