| November 23, 2017

Plan distributed substandard zinc sheets: Quake victims

Plan distributed substandard zinc sheets: Quake victims
DOLAKHA, March 15: A supplier for Plan Nepal, an international NGO that works for children, has reportedly distributed corrugated zinc sheets of substandard quality to earthquake victims in Dolakha district.

Under Plan's rehabilitation program, its Kathmandu-based supplier Anku Traders distributed zinc sheets to 299 earthquake-affected households in Boch VDC last Saturday.

Each quake-affected household had received two bundles of nine-foot sheets of BST brand. One bundle consists of 72 feet of zinc sheets. Earlier, an all-party mechanism and the VDC office had identified 299 households in Boch VDC as quake-affected.

According to a local, it wasn't hard for them to determine that the corrugated sheets they received were of poor quality. "The zinc sheets were much lighter," Ram Bahadur Basnet, one of the locals, said.

The locals have already written to Plan Nepal pointing out that the sheets distributed to them were of different standard than the ones outlined in the tender process. The distribution of corrugated sheets is part of Plan's temporary shelter construction project that aims to benefit 5,000 earthquake victims in 11 VDCs in the district. For the first phase of the project, the organization had invited tenders for 4,432 bundles of zinc sheets to be distributed among 2,716 quake-affected households.

As per the tender notice, thickness of the zinc sheet had to be 0.475 mm and its zinc coating had to be 120 gsm. Each bundle had to weigh 74 kg.

However, the zinc sheets supplied by Anku Traders, the successful bidder in the tender process, do not affirm to the quality specified in the tender notice.

According to local beneficiaries, a bundle of corrugated sheets distributed to them weighs just 64 kg instead of 74, and its thickness is 0.41 mm instead of 0.475 mm. Likewise, the zinc coating measures 110 gsm instead of 120 gsm.

"As soon as we realized the difference, we weighed the bundles and found them short by 20 kg," Samjhana Tamang, one of the recipients, said.

According to local distributors, the difference in weight leads to a price difference of up to Rs 2000 per bundle, according to local distributers.

Besides, locals have also complained that the corrugated sheets distributed to them last Saturday do not have name tag either. Following the misuse of funds for procurement of low quality materials, locals blamed the organization and suppliers.

On Sunday, local beneficiaries registered their complaints at the local office of Plan Nepal demanding that the organization take the substandard sheets back.

Admitting the receipt of written complaints by local beneficiaries, Pramil Adhikari, an employee of Dolkha-based Plan Nepal office, said, "We are yet to verify whether the materials distributed to the locals met the conditions outlined in our tender request," he said.

Plan Nepal is currently probing into the matter, according to shelter specialist Emant Niraula. "If found guilty, the office will ask the supplier to take back the distributed materials and distribute sheets that meet the standards," he said.

Plan Nepal, following the earthquake last year, has started working in Dolkha district for the rehabilitation of quake victims.