Contractor abandons Mzimba irrigation project

Members of Ndau Irrigation Scheme in Mzimba district have asked government to complete the irrigation project launched in 2008 as part of the greenbelt initiative saying the contractor abandoned it in 2009 after six months.

The Scheme’s President Austin Nyondo told Malawi’s Vice President Khumbo Kachali during his tour of the scheme on Tuesday that the contractor Primo Civil Engineering only planted 14 diesel water pump engines but did not lay the network of pipes.

Nyondo said of the 14 engines only 10 were running.

“We are using our own pipes but they are not enough to irrigate all fields hence we ask government for an additional 50 pipes,” Nyondo said.

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The scheme, which dates back to 2002, is part of 19 African Development Bank funded schemes dotted across the country and has a potential irrigation area of 48 hectares but only 36 hectares, is under utilization.

Out of the 36 hectare, 23.9 hectares is under maize, 1.1-hectare beans, 3 hectares tomatoes and 8 hectares intercropped with maize and beans.

Nyasa Times was unable to reach Primo Civil Engineering officials for comment but Principal Secretary for Water Development and Irrigation Erica Maganga said the contractor did not abandon the project.

“The contractor finished the project but government owes him about MK2.5 million under the defect liability period. This is a one-year period after project completion where the Contractor is liable for any defects that may occur. The money is usual 5 percent of total project cost. We will make sure that pay him before he leaves the site,” Maganga said.

Mzimba North MP  Goodall Gondwe said 48 hectares of irrigated farmland was too small to have any impact saying there is need to transform farming into business.

“Ndau should set a precedent in this green belt initiative so that we have more farmland under irrigation,” Gondwe said.

Kachali urged farmers in the country to embrace irrigation saying rains were becoming erratic and unreliable.

Kachali said Malawi could only attain food security if farmers plant maize twice or thrice saying Ndau irrigation scheme is a role model in this regard.

He then ordered that a borehole to be drilled at the scheme in two weeks saying people should have clean drinking water and not drink with livestock from South Rukuru River.

“A Tractor is also coming  next week to till all your fields so that by July you should be planting other crops again,” the Veep said.

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