Irregularities and fraud have rocked the running of Plant and Vehicle Hire Organisation (PVHO) where some officers are accused of illegally selling government machinery and using it for private gain, Weekend Nation has learnt.
Correspondence Weekend Nation has seen also shows that some PVHO accounts personnel have allegedly been using inappropriate receipt books to pocket money paid to government by customers.
In a correspondence dated January 13 2014 from PVHO junior staff to the Chief Secretary to Government Hawa Ndilowe, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director Rezine Mzikamanda and Police Headquarters, PVHO is said to be suffering from alleged massive looting and theft of money and machinery, including vehicles.
“As you are all aware that PHVO Department was established by Act of Parliament in 1971 as a Treasury fund to generate funds to government account number one, we are informing you that looting of government money is not being done at Capital Hill only but in other departments like PVHO as per OPC circular letters reference numbers 15/15/1 and 15/15/7 dated 7th December 2012 and 19th November 2013, respectively.
“Some cashiers have two general receipt books whereby one is used to receipt money which they don’t deposit into account number one,” reads the communication in part.
One case of use of inappropriate receipt books is highlighted in an April 22 2013 memorandum where a PVHO accounts personnel was said to have used inappropriate receipt book for cash collected from customers.
“Sometime early 2012, I ran short of General Receipts in my office and I used the GRS which were partly used by Nkhotakota offices (PVHO) in the amount of K96 500 revenue collected on inspection fees.
“This was erroneously entered and when the matter was brought before the RME [regional mechanical engineer], we agreed that I refund the money,” reads the memo in part.
In another case, some PVHO officers allegedly sold parts of an earthmoving and heavy industrial equipment without following procedures.
“I brought to his attention that the purchase of the BEML rear undercarriage was illegal as it was merely boarded off and no Treasury Authority was yet obtained for the item to be sold, which he understood.
“In fact, the selling would be the last resort considering the fleet of BEML graders we have of similar type which would have benefited from this grader in due course,” reads the correspondence from former PVHO director Simon Namuthuwa.
In another correspondence, a security company, Guardian Angel Security Company Limited (Gascol), which government engaged to guard PHVO offices in Lilongwe, also complained about irregularities in the handling of government machinery at PVHO.
In a letter to PVHO director, the security company cited the case where a tandem—a spare part of a heavy machinery vehicle—was taken without following procedures and never returned.
“Gascol wishes to remind PVHO staff that they should continue respecting and supporting the contractual security procedures agreed between PVHO and Gascol. We would like to bring to your attention about an incident that threatened our security procedures at your Lilongwe offices where Gascol do provide security services as per your mandate.
“On the gate pass, [name withheld] wrote that the taken spare part was a braket, yet it was a tandem according to evidence given by our guard and other inside sources. After further investigations conducted by our officers, it was proved that indeed it was a tandem and not braket that got collected,” reads the letter in part.
The correspondence further shows that the department’s junior staff are also tussling with PVHO management over K28 million unpaid subsistence allowances for about 150 officers dating back to 2007.
In an interview on Wednesday, PVHO Central Region mechanical engineer Henry Kwacha said he did not handle the queried transactions, saying he is new in the office.
“I cannot say much on these issues because I am new in the office. Some of those issues happened before I came here. I need to have all the information so that I can do my own investigation and take up the matters with responsible officers,” said Kwacha.
PVHO director, Jomo Mkandawire, also said he is only about one month old in the office, saying there are several irregularities within PVHO which need to be investigated and dealt with.
“I am doing an environmental scan to find out what the problems are. I am yet to conclude that, but there are several challenges which the organisation is facing in terms of security, financial and other aspects. However, we are determined to make improvements in this organisation.
“I know there have been a lot of shortcomings and regional mechanical engineers are better positioned to comment on that,” said Mkandawire.
He said the possible cause of irregularities at PVHO is that the organisation was almost abandoned for some time.
“There are a lot of irregularities here and those irregularities will [end]. The organisation was more or less abandoned. We have hard-working staff who need good leadership and guidance. Those irregularities will [end],” said Mkandawire.