The issue of poor workmanship in the construction sector is a major concern. Government is spending billions of kwacha on poorly constructed roads. This is extended to stadiums. The Roads Authority and Local government officials have complained about poor road construction.
Recently President Peter Mutharika himselfrightly observed that many of the newly constructed roads in towns and townships are already dilapidated only a few months after being constructed and called on the ACB to probe corruption in the sector. Residents, the ultimate beneficiaries, have also joined a string of people who have voiced their concern over the poor quality of the newly constructed roads.
For example, the residents of Area 36 have expressed disappointment over the poor state of the new road in their area. The road is only a few months old but it is already “finished.” Last month Mangochi residents petitioned Mutharika to take action against corruption at the town council and raised the issue of poor stadium construction which is “already in bad shape before it starts working”.
The story is the same everywhere one goes. But the questions is: what measures is government taking or has taken to stop this vice? One would have expected that contractors who do shoddy work are blacklisted. The same goes for civil engineers who certify poorly constructed roads.
Leaders at national and local government levels need to be serious and set stringent road construction standards. No matter how small the job is, it has to be done to the highest standard.Contractors who do not meet the quality standards should find something else to do. Sadly, in Malawi we embrace mediocrity and we wonder why we lag behind when our neighbours and other countries in the region are head of us. There should be no excuses of poor road construction for whatever reason.
It is incredible that Minister of Local Government KondwaniNankhumwa could defend a poorly constructed road like Chiputula-Mzuzu Airport road as good. That is his opinion. But this is one of the poorly constructed roads in Mzuzu. Apart from the thin layer, poor surfaceand edges, the drainage system posea danger to the residents not to mention that the road is very close to houses. Mzuzu, like other cities, does not have quality roads. The condition of the roads is so poor that they look like they were constructed 20 or 30 years ago. Yet some of them are less than one year.
We cannot continue with Mickey Mouse contractors who do shoddy work. It is costly because a few months down the line the same roads will need to be repaired to seal potholes or be resurfaced.
Honestly speaking, Malawi lacks quality contractors who can do quality work. For example, a contractor was given a contract to fix a bridge over Rukuru River at Jalawe in Rumphi. Just a few months the bridge was washed away again. Thanks to Malawi Army they fixed it. Another contractor was given work to upgrade a 650-metre (less than one kilometer) Church Hill road in Limbewith a timeframe of three months. It took seven months, giving lame excuses for not implementing the project on time. Even three months is a long time!
Malawian contractors use cheap materials, cheap and unqualified labour and lack proper equipment. If one visits their construction site, one will be amazed at the type of equipment they are using. It is as if they are constructing a driveway!Just spreading tar and putting quarry stone on top. Kumbotyambotya waka phula.
With the millions they rip off government, they can easily build capacity by purchasing construction equipment such as dozers, compaction rollers, waste compactors, excavators, graders etc. But they share the money with corrupt politicians and public officials.
The majority of these contractors are corrupt, incompetent and ripping off government. They have become powerful crooks who have captured state institutions and still win jobs even when their work is far from satisfactory. That is why it is important that the people who award contracts be monitored closely and questioned why they award contracts to failed contractors? The integrity of the civil engineers who certify the worthiness of roads should equally be questioned. Why should they certify that the road is up to the required standard when they know it is of poor quality?
Governmentcannot continue spending billions of kwacha of taxpayers money on rehabilitating and constructing new roads on poor work. One way is for Roads Authority and Assemblies to employ qualifiedcivil engineers and artisans and construct roads themselves. Alternatively, Malawi Army should be given some roads to construct. They can do a good job. Better still, get foreign contractors. The private sector in Malawi is a disappointing lot. It is not as efficient as people would like to be believe. They just prop up their status (Kujihayahaya waka nthene).
Malawi has also lost a huge opportunity of having good, modern stadiaM1in towns and municipalities. The stadiums that are being constructed or have been constructed are of poor standard. There is no contractor in Malawi with experience to construct an adorable stadium. Government should have sourced additional funds to beef up local resources and hiredforeign engineersexperienced in stadium construction as managersto oversee the projects. Or assistance should have been sought from countries like China to assist with technical skills.
Alternatively the projects should have been co-implemented with external contractors. Some of the stadia could have promoted tourism. Imagine how much tourism a modern and spacious stadium could bring to Mangochi through hosting important supper league and international games. Why do our leaders lack foresight for better things despite some of them living in developed countries for decades? Just move around the country and see the quality of infrastructure that is being constructed.
Nothing is impressive: from school blocks to office buildings.Government wasted millions of taxpayers money constructing a steel pedestrian bridge over the M1 road in Area 18A and another one near Lilongwe River Bridge over Kamuzu Procession road. No one is using the poorly designed and constructed bridges. Is this a reflection of a failed state?
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