The newly constructed Liwonde Bridge and Barrage will be ready for use in March as government and the contractor have agreed to fully complete construction work by month end of February.
Speaking after inspecting the construction works at Liwonde Bridge on Monday, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha said government has agreed with the consultant and contractor to complete construction work in February.
Mwanamvekha said the visit was meant to appreciate progress made at site so far and discussing with the contractors on completion of the project.
“We have now agreed that all construction work at the barrage should be completed by end of February. We have also agreed that any delay will bear no cost to government,” he said.
Mwanamvekha said the project was supposed to finish in January as per government contract with both the World Bank and contractor, describing Liwonde Barrage as one of the country’s strategic development structures with potential of enhancing socio-economic growth.
“The modern bridge will improve the road network such that road users will find it easy to pass through Shire River while the upgraded barrage will enhance power generation as the flow of water will now be regulated,” he added.
The minister said government would like to ensure that there is enough water in Shire River so that the country could generate adequate electricity.
However, Mwanamvekha expressed worry over the numerous extensions of the project that have increased the total cost from $36 million to $44 million.
“Out of the initial $36 million, government has pumped in $6 million whilst the rest has been provided by the World Bank,” he pointed out.
Resident Engineer for Norplan AS Construction Company, Johan Skorve said most of the major works at the site have been completed, adding that the road will be opened to traffic this week.
“If everything goes according to plan, without any disturbances by the rains then we should be able to finish everything before end of February,” he assured.
Skorve said the new gate at the barrage will enable Malawi save more water since it would only release the amount of water that is needed for power generation downstream at Tedzani and Nkula power stations.
He said completion of the project has delayed because the contractor who was initially engaged took too long to mobilize for the project.
“The delays started in 2014 and in 2015 because the initial contractor was not well prepared to start the work, mechanic contractor then decided to subcontract the construction of the barrage to another contractor in India which complicated matters,” Skorve said.