Beware of Cashgate in road construction

Last month Lilongwe and Blantyre city councils received a boost of K1.8 billion to tarmac their roads. This is obviously a good development. It will reduce the number of dusty streets in our shanty compounds which contribute to respiratory diseases in summer and are muddy and impassable in the rainy season. The rehabilitation of these roads will go a long away in making travelling comfortable, smooth and fast.

Damaged Karonga-Chitipa road

Damaged Karonga-Chitipa road

However, city councils should ensure that the money is put to good use. Government has been losing a lot of money to road contractors. It is a common practice for contractors to overprice their goods and services. Incidentally, part of the money (for the other layer of the road) has found its way back to officials and politicians through bribery.

Rather than allow contractors to dictate the terms, city councils should do it. They should estimate how much each road costs per kilometre and allow contractors a reasonable mark up. All these roads have short distances. They should not cost much. The councils should guard against losing money in this way.

Another major concern is that some road contractors do not have capacity to construct quality roads. They do not have proper equipment and lack civil engineering skills. A visit to Lilongwe, Blantyre or Mzuzu reveals that some roads constructed a few years ago have already developed “swimming pools”. Yet the contractors were paid a lot of money for poor work and you wonder how officials could justify the cost. A road is meant to last many years. Quality is one element that councils should emphasise on. Before payment is made, there should be physical inspection of the road by a team of relevant stakeholders, not just one person. Payment should only be made when they are satisfied that the work has successfully been completed. We know that contractors have been conniving with officials at various levels to get contracts through bribery. There is need to put a stop to this tendency if the country is to move forward.

One lesson that should be learnt from Cashgate is that those who handle contracts cannot be trusted. We have seen how high ranking officials in government sanctioned payments for goods that were not delivered. One cannot understand how government could pay companies for goods that were not supplied. What happened to the control system? It is important that city councils should put in place measures to ensure that only deserving contractors are awarded contracts.

There should be checks and balances in awarding contracts. For example, no contract should be awarded without bidding and incompetent contractors should be given any work. Contractors with criminal records should not be allowed to bid for projects. The Anti-Corruption Bureau should be involved in scrutinising bids.

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24 thoughts on “Beware of Cashgate in road construction”

  1. Machinjiri says:

    Bwana Noel Mp Machinjiri pliz consider the Khama area 9 ring road to seventh church ,pliz chonde

  2. Mapiri says:

    Goroso, u seem to be the one misleading the pipo. Many of these contractors are briefcase. They don’t have proper equipment to do a job (not even an office) As a result, they do shoddy a poor job. Look at the quality of work. A well constructed road is supposed to more than 10 years before u thnk of maintanance. Our roads have a life span of two to five years. But if u look @ the money they charge govt.are paid it’s too much. Is that not overpricing? Engineers are part of the problem. Their estimates are unrealistic most of the times bcoz they also eat from there. And they charge a percentage.

  3. blessings Kaponda says:

    If Jesus comes today many will lose their heavenly throne cause of greed for cash.repent before time flies.

  4. Nthubu Goroso says:

    there seems to be some sense in this story we have here. However, it also shows that as a journalist you did not do a proper research. There are a few flaws I would like you to clarify to us: what do you think qualifies a contractor to be awarded a contract? Have you ever tried to do pricing for a certain advertised tender?, If you have done this before, what factors were you considering to come up with the prices for your tender?, What do you mean when you say overpricing and what are you basing your argument at?, Have you ever heard of Engineers estimate for a particular project?, What do you understand by the term “design life or life span” of a project?, Do you really know what happens during project inspection during construction and after completion, as well as project handover and who is involved in this exercise? If you can clarify to us all these points it would be better for all of us, just don’t give us half truths. We may not have the privilege to write stories for public consumption as you do, but we it does not mean we are completely clueless. I am sure several clients of construction projects would give you an insight of how these things are handled. Please just do not continue misleading us as our government is doing.

  5. chimutu says:

    lilongwe city mayor and your crue plz pay a visit to blantyre city and see for yourself wat chalamanda is doing in beautifying the city..blantyr is clean and he is decorating it to high in ur case..go to stretch from lilongwe bridge to bwalolanjobvu an appreciate how nusty the city is..ur are here and BEAM headquarters is here! plz do something we also need zinthu zabwino ndi zamakono..after 50yrs of independence but having same structures and same face of lilongwe city??

    red star campaign kunonso ikufunika ndi miseu yomwe..ngati simumva izi u all deserve evictions ife tatopa..

  6. Charter says:

    Bingu took a lot of credit for Chitipa-Karonga road. His surviving henchmen should explain why the road looks like this just a few years after.

  7. Patriot weniweni says:

    They make a living by potholes.If potholes doesn’t develop on roads then they won’t have bread and butter on their table..Mediocrity is everywhere in Malawi.Malawians are not patriots and do not love their country instead they love easy money.Dusty roads are all over Malawi.Our cities do not even befit the modern city standard.The roads are so tiny.We have unnecessary congestions like we own the largest number of cars in the world.Shame for Malawi.

  8. BCA says:

    Finally Kittermaster road in BCA will be repaired. Your Worship the Mayor please look into it and kindly repair this deteriorated road.

  9. Obvious Phiri says:

    We pay over the top for poorly tarring eaxh kilometer of road. The difference goes to the kabal which award the contracts and authorise payments.

    Don’t think these guys are Fools. They have vision. They know that a few years down the line these roads will need to be repaired every few months, patch upon patch upon patch.

    A steady flow of income is thus guaranteed.

    That’s why we allow truckers to establish their bases in residential areas. Thirty tonne monsters accelerate the deterioration of roads that are meant for light vehicles.

  10. ABzione says:

    Add a guarantee clause in the contracts. If the condition of the road changes over a given ‘timeframe’, the contractor shall be responsible for fixing it.

  11. Boy says:

    Lets give our workers realistic salaries so that they can stop stealing. If you give your employee Mk20 000.00 per month, what do you expect him to do? K20 000.00 is less than $30 per month. Non of our neighbours are paying such little salaries and that explains why corruption is minimal in those countries. We are still earning salaries for 2008 yet prices of goods and services have increased 20 times. I blame a weak ministry of Labour who some how connive with employers to maintain pathetic salaries.

    1. Nyopex says:

      Lets just fire everybody in the ministry and bring in new ideas. Why? On entry into the ministry, whether one is good or bad, the problem is that he/she is just swallowed by the existing systems.

  12. pofera says:

    Finally our chimwankhunda dam road will have tarmak .bravo govn,bravo peter

  13. Mau says says:

    A Malawi tiyenera kuchosa khalidwe lonyansa kuba 2much.Tikalembedwa ntchito timaonjerapo kuba eish!Timaona ngati udolo komwe kuli kupusa.Maiko aayandikana nafe akutukuka ife ayi.

  14. Masozi says:

    We Are talking of city roads of which we gat alot of them with potholes and I am sure the one who took the photo of a pothole on the Karonga-Chitipa road lives in one of the cities. You mean you couldnt take photos from within the city you live in but travel all the way to Chitipa? Please leave the Chitipa Road alone in communicating your subversive propaganda. When did Chitipa Rd became a city road?

  15. Namatetule says:

    they should investigate the Roads Authority , is Mota engil the only Contractor in the world ? Are David , Pamodzi, Royal associates,Infratech Associates Bua the only competent engineers in Malawi, why do they keep awarding contracts to non performing contractors who are personal friends to one of the directors( AM) the whole organisation is rotten it needs overhaul. ACB we need need your prompt action here at the RA

    1. Nyopex says:

      Sure! I second Namatetule’s point! Bravo Namatetule!!!

  16. Kulibe kantu says:

    Government has to be serious this time. There is a lot of corruption in the award of road construction. Please scrutinise all these bidders. These contractors are just EATING taxpayers money.

    1. Nyopex says:

      Zoona zosezi! Keep it up Kulibe kantu.

  17. Nyopex says:

    ACB, pls investigate Roads Authority on how they award and manage roads projects? Surely, corruption and cash-gating should be involved at some stage within their system. Potential contractors are not awarded contracts even if they come to be the lowest bidder, why? Something is wrong some where!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Check it pls.

  18. Boji says:

    Area 24 road from works to Ngwenya, consider it in first phase

  19. Vwapuvwapu says:

    K1.8mn for city roads, why chitipa-karonga road? Kkkkkk.

  20. ChilewaniPius says:

    Plz consider the road from Tank to Mgwenya via area 24.

  21. captain says:

    This karonga chitipa road was built by the financiers contractor from china. In this case we can blame Bingu and his Chinese government according to their agreement

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