Concerned with irregularities dodging the USD500 million water project from Salima to Lilongwe in a bid to end the water woes that have rocked the city and surrounding areas for some time now, Center for Development of People, (CEDEP) has called for the cancellation of the project.
Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) awarded a contract to Khato Civils Pty Ltd and South Zambezi Pty Ltd Joint Venture for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction of Lake Malawi Water Supply for Lilongwe City at a contract amount of K29 billion plus $397 million (K400 billion).
The project is expected to pump 50 million litres of water from Lake Malawi per day to meet the city’s ever growing population.
Despite the fact that it is a requirement under the Environmental Management Act to carry out an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for a water project of this size before conducting such a project, nothing of this sort has happened, violating the Environment Management Act of Laws of Malawi.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, CEDEP said for a project of such magnitude to commence, there needs to be both a pre-feasibility and full feasibility study conducted as well as a comprehensive environmental and social impact assessment followed by detailed designs that are then made public.
“All this is supposed to be done by an independent contractor to avoid issues of conflict of interest. Looks like somebody has been pressurizing Water Authorities especially Lilongwe Water Board and Central Region Water Board to proceed with this using short cuts.
“How can government be doing short cuts in projects? What is the hurry? Why should government refuse professionalism? What is behind this contract? This is mediocrity of the highest order.
“Further than this, it is worrisome to note that this project seeks to tap water from Lake Malawi in Salima to Lilongwe and belongs to Lilongwe water board but has been awarded to Khato Civils Limited and yet Lilongwe Water Board does not have sufficient information of the same,” reads part of the statement signed by CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence.
The project was awarded after a restricted tendering process in which six companies participated.
Trapence said government should hire an independent contractor who will do a full feasibility study and an Environmental and Social impact Assessment (ESIA) before the project commences.
“All these must be published and made available to all Malawians. Malawians deserve to know better any projects undertaken for their benefit using the public resources. We also demand government to fully explain the criteria used in selecting the contractors.
“We do not want issues of national importance like this to be done in a secretive and clandestine manner. We have got the right to information as backed by the Access to information laws. Government need to learn to be open on these things and provide details of the project,” he said adding that if government decides otherwise citizens of this country have got a right to seek the interventions of the courts.
Government of Malawi agreed with World Bank to pump water using gravity from Diamphwe River to Lilongwe.
The World Bank project was cheaper costing approximately USD200 million(Two Hundred Million United States Dollars). Feasibility studies were done, communities around were consulted, some were told to prepare to be relocated, according to Cedep.
Several meetings in Dedza, Lilongwe and Salima and many places took place involving different stakeholders costing millions. The next step was government to put in the budget compensation money for Diamphwe people.
Commentators argue that while the idea of improving water supply to Lilongwe City is a noble one, and that it should be expedited, nothing should be done at the expense of making the whole country suffer.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :