Center for Development of People (CEDEP) has called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to rise above party politics on Salima-Lilongwe water project following ‘personal and party interests’ displayed by the legislatures.
The proposed project to pump water from Lake Malawi to the capital city, which is 125 kilometres away, has drawn mixed reactions due to, among others, lack of a feasibility study.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Thursday, CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence said the MPs actions are evidenced in the way both opposition and government sides are handling the issue following revelations that Khato Civils, a company which was awarded project funded both the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) before being awarded the contract.
“We are not surprised that the opposition parliamentarians in their recent press briefing ignored irregularities in the 500 million US dollars water scheme meant to tap water from Lake Malawi in Salima to Lilongwe in a bid to eradicate the water woes that have dogged the city for so long.
“We are also not surprised with the behaviour of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament in its meeting with the Lilongwe Water Board which instead of citing the irregularities in the project ended up praising the same,” said Trapence.
According to CEDEP, the Lilongwe Water Board is also on record to have received some money from Khato Civils amounting to K10 million to support a function.
“We find the behaviour of the parliamentarians very selfish and unfortunate and we wish to support the position taken by the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General that the project should be cancelled until proper procedures have been followed. We therefore request the Minister of Finance to update Malawians on the status quo of the cancellation process,” reads part of the statement.
As clearly explained in our earlier statement, said Trapence, a project of such magnitude cannot commence without a proper pre-feasibility and feasibility study by an independent contractor.
He further said awarding the feasibility study to Khato Civils, which stands to benefit from the project having been awarded the same as constructors smacks of corruption and there is no guarantee that Khato will not gloss over the pitfalls of the project.
Trapence said proper procedures to be followed before projects of such magnitude commence and before contracts are awarded to contain corruption.
The project was awarded to Khato Civils through a restricted tender which according to the Public Procurement Act, is within the law.
It is expected that the contractor will identify a financier or financiers and government will only guarantee the loan. of about K400 billion.