Chilima pledges to revive abandoned US$10m irrigation scheme in Mangochi

The US$10 million Nkopola Irrigation Scheme in Mangochi was abandoned by the previous Government after it plunged into debts, but Vice-President Saulos Chilima had pledged that the current administration will reactivate the project.

Chilima, who is on a tour of the country to assess development projects that have been stalled due to some logistical hiccups, was in Mangochi on Tuesday and was told Nkopola Irrigation Scheme has accumulated debt arrears and excessive electricity bills.

The project, which commenced in 2003 got an Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) financial injection at 79%, but the Malawi government has been struggling to honour its 21% portion.

Chilima in public projects inspection tour nationwide

An engineer on site told Chilima that government owes the contractor of the project, Sawa Group, K1.6 billion in arrears while the Scheme’s president, Phillip Mkwela disclosed that the scheme been in its idle state for a long time in which it has accumulated about K19 million in electricity bills.

Chilima expressed worry over government’s continued tendency of initiating projects without funds to complement the implementation but was quick to say that the current administration will not abandon this project, saying: “We cannot afford to write off a 10 million US dollar project”.

Last week, Chilima also discovered that over K6 billion needed to complete three teachers’ training colleges (TTCs) in Rumphi, Mchinji and Chikwawa districts is not being released by the government.

Chilima, while taking cognizance that the problem government has is the lack of funding for almost all projects across the country, also promised to ensure that these important projects are completed.

The project, which started in 2018 and was expected to be completed by January 2020, was pegged at $42 million (about K33 billion) out of which government was supposed to provide K9 billion (30%) while BADEA and Saudi Fund for Development and Opec Fund for International Development pledged to provide K26 billion.

Meanwhile, the US$26.7 million Karonga Water Supply and Sanitation project is set to be delivered in May 2022, reports constructionreviewonline.com.

It quotes Chilima, who toured the project, as saying the deadline must be met to ensure that issues of erratic water supply are a thing of the past in the district.

The project, which aims at rehabilitating and upgrading the existing Karonga Town water supply systems and extend the distribution pipe network to the surrounding areas, was initiated after the failure by current Karonga water supply system to provide reliable water supply.

The Karonga water supply system only provide 12,400 m3 per day, while the current demand is about 16,700 m3/day.

The water supply system at Karonga town currently provides water to 45,776 people against the current estimated population of 97,500 people. It is projected that by the year 2035, Karonga town shall have about 184,000 people.

The project is also co-financed by BADEA at US$10m and Saudi Fund for Development and Opec Fund for International Development at US$15m with the rest by the Government of Malawi.

The report by constructionreviewonline.com also says OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has lent US$12m to the government for the Nkhata Bay Water Supply and Sanitation Project in the eastern part of the country.

The project is also funded by the African Development Fund (ADF). The US$15m that the financial institution will provide for the project will be channelled through the African Development Bank (AfDB).

This mobilisation will allow the construction of a new drinking water plant in Nkhata Bay in which pipelines will also be installed to supply the reservoirs that will allow drinking water to be distributed to the city’s population.

For the sanitation component, a wastewater treatment plant will be built in the Town of Nkhata Bay.

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