President Chakwera acknowledges that Govt projects keep delaying due to poor funding

Progress of the construction works

* As he pledges for speedy completion of Nsanje-Marka by December 2021

* Construction was rolled out way in 2018 but at least completion progress is now at 85%

* With a rehabilitated and functioning transport system, Nsanje will be transformed to a city

By Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express & Steve Chirombo, MANA

On his tour of construction works of Nsanje-Marka M1 road last Friday, President Lazarus Chakwera bemoaned the delays that affect development projects due to poor as well as delayed funding.

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The 25km road construction of Nsanje-Marka road, that connects Nsanje to the Mozambique border, was rolled out way in 2018 but at least, completion progress is now at 85%.

Another important road under construction in the Lower Shire is that from Thabwa to Fatima along the East Bank, which is also slow and its delay greatly inconvenienced community members there in shuttling to and from Chikwawa.

Having a ride on the completed section of the road

Another huge project that was launched in March last year for Chikwawa and Nsanje, is the Shire Zambezi Waterway Project, which Chakwera assured people on Friday that is was still in government’s development agenda.

Chakwera assured people of Nsanje the Nsanje-Marka road, which he took cognizance of its importance as it shall reduce travel distance from Malawi to Mozambique, would be completed by December, 2021.

Appreciating a new bridge

While bemoaning the delays due to poor funding he assured of speedy completion since the contractor has received all his payments.

“This road important because we will be able to access cheap goods and services from our neighbouring country,” the President said.

“With a rehabilitated and functioning transport system in Nsanje, the district will be transformed to a city where visitors coming in the country from Mozambique will experience city life here at Nsanje.”

In July, when he was commissioning the new bridge at Shire North that connects the Limbe-Nkaya rail system, President Chakwera announced that his administration was set to continue the phased rehabilitation and upgrading of the 201km Marka-Limbe railway line that connects to the Mozambican border.

This rail line is economically important for Malawi for goods and fuel importation from Beira in Mozambique, which was viable in the past.

The rehabilitation starts from the border Marka up to Nsanje to Limbe and thereafter from Nkaya-Salima; Salima-Lilongwe and Lilongwe-Mchinji, which has been made possible through a concession agreement with CEAR.

State of Nsanje-Limbe railway

However, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) issued a restriction against the Ministry Transport and Public Works from allowing contractor Mota-Engil to go ahead with the contract it was awarded to design, upgrade and rehabilitate the railway section between Marka-Bangula.

The ACB took this action on September 3 following a complaint it received alleging irregularities and suspected corruption surrounding the procurement process.

The Ministry of Transport and Public Works awarded the contract to the Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil from the bid that involved four other construction companies — two Chinese and one Malawian but connected with foreign firms.

Sources says the complaint came about out of envy from certain section of the industry on Mota-Engil being granted huge government projects.

Being briefed on the road progress

However, sources say the ACB shouldn’t have swiftly issued the restriction order because the Ministry of Transport & Public Works did not grant the contract but only published an ‘intent notice to award a contract’.

“This did not necessarily mean that the Ministry of Transport & Public Works had awarded the contract to Mota-Engil since the procurement laws state that a notice of intention to award needs to be made before contract is awarded.

The source said having published the ‘intent notice to award the contract’ to Mota-Engil, interested parties and stakeholders were supposed to write the Ministry of Transport to officially seek clarification of file a complaint, which none of the other bidders did.

In the newspaper notice, the Ministry of Transport indicated that Mota-Engil quoted its bid at K48 billion; China Railway at K60 billion; China Civil Engineering Construction at K79 billion; D&M Rail Construction/Mabro JV (Malawi) at K97 billion and ABD/Golden Star/Lennings JV (Malawi/South Africa) at K95 billion.

The Ministry further indicated that the reason for the rejection of two Malawian companies with connection to foreign entities was that they were “non-responsive”.

During his address to the people of Nsanje, President Chakwera called on Malawians to unite — saying it was through unity which would transform the country.

“Let’s all work together if we want to develop our nation and if we want to achieve what every Malawian wants,” he said.

Construction for the 25km road, by China Railway No.20 Bureau Group, was supposed to be completed in March, 2021 and the budget is expected to shoot to K11 billion.

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