Questions as Lugola faces DPP

Saturday February 22 2020

Questions as Lugola faces DPP,Rom Solutions Limited,ministry of home affairs fire department contract scandal,

 

By Khalifa Said @ThatBoyKhalifax ksaid@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Questions continue to cloud the real identity and persons behind Rom Solutions Limited, the company at the centre of the Sh1 trillion ministry of home affairs fire department contract scandal.

Even as new details emerge about the company’s operations in Tanzania, Rom Solutions could literally walk free from the scandal as the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau suggested yesterday.

According to PCCB acting director general John Mbungo, the company, which is apparently implementing a $33.33 million (Over Sh78 billion) security contract in Zanzibar, has written to withdraw from the case involving sacked home affairs minister Kangi Lugola and other senior government officials.

Mr Mbungo told a press conference yesterday that investigations into the matter had been expeditiously completed, but added a rider that Rom Solutions said it would withdraw the contract unconditionally.

This, coming even as it remained unclear if the anti-corruption agency had proven any foreign links in Romania with Rom Solutions as the company portrayed in its contract information.

The Citizen last week showed some of the gaps in Rom Solutions’ supposed links with Romania and its other portrayal on its way to land the lucrative deal to supply firefighting and emergency rescue equipment, including drones to the ministry.

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It has now emerged that not only was Rom Solutions chasing for business on the mainland, it had already bagged the 2015 contract to provide and install security surveillance equipment in a plan by the Zanzibar government to secure the tourism industry.

Its contract on the mainland would, however, boomerang as President John Magufuli disapproved of it and said it had violated the law and reeked of impropriety on the part of the negotiating parties. The President went on to sack Mr Lugola, and the commissioner general for the fire brigade Thobias Andengenye. The ministry’s permanent secretary brigadier Jacob Kingu reportedly tendered his resignation and has since been appointed ambassador designate.

Since publication of the Rom Solutions queries last week, the company which appear to have shadowy links locally has suspended its website. And The Citizen could not place its official registration in either side of the United Republic of Tanzania.

While Rom Solutions claims to have been registered with ZPPDA.192/C/2019 registration number at the Zanzibar Business and Property Registration Agency (ZBPRA), efforts to locate the company from the agency’s registry proved futile. There is also no such company in Brella’s registry and the company has also remained reluctant to speak with The Citizen.

Its Stone Town Surveillance Project which has been under execution since 2015 and expected to conclude this year, is being administered by SMZ’s Ministry of Local Administration and Special Department whose minister, Mr Haji Omar Kheri, told journalists in June 2015 that the agreement was with a company called Revitalco Management and Consulting based in Romania and registered locally as ROM Solutions. The deal was to “transform” the Isles’ security system.

Revitalco Management and Consulting introduces itself as a local, eight-year-old Romanian company, specialising in market expertise, extensive coverage and an impressive portfolio of products and services. It does not say, however, if it has business partners outside Romania and until press time it hadn’t responded to The Citizen’s questions if it has any association with Rom Solutions. Going by its project portfolio on the website, the Zanzibar contract would be Revitalco’s largest, having done five projects ranging from euros 700,000 (Sh1.75bn) to euros 4.5 million (Sh11.3bn).

The project in the Isles involved installation of about 900 sets of Close-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras around the Stone Town area, supply of three patrol boats, four modern fire trucks and other important security equipment. “We need to wipe out criminals so that tourists can remain safe,” Mr Kheri said then.

In a speech to dissolve the House of Representatives on June 26, 2015, Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein mentioned the deal against the background of his administration’s efforts to boost the tourism sector. Dr Shein said the project would cost $28.9million (Sh66.5bn) and that a total of Sh10 billion was already set aside for the initial steps of the project implementation.

But the project was officially launched in October 2018 during a State function graced by Dr Shein and attended by among others one Mr George Alexandru who was introduced as the project manager from Rom Solutions.

Two years into implementation, however, the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee this week raised concern about uncertainties surrounding the project, even questioning its sustainability.

While tabling the Committee’s report in the House proceedings on Wednesday, the Committee’s chairperson Ms Asha Abdalla Mussa noted that the project’s sustainability was in doubt, expressing concerns that the project remained plagued with many challenges that threatened its viability,” she said in a her speech seen by The Citizen.

Some of the issues that were noted by the Committee in its report include the malfunctioning of the CCTV cameras installed in some areas, like in Kiembe Samaki, as well as the increase of the cost of the project, from the initial budget of $28.95 million to $33.88 million which was reportedly attributed to the purchase of two boats that were not included in the initial plan.