The Japanese Ambassador to Malawi, Kae Yanagisawa, has expressed anger and disappointment over the abuse of the financial resources her government gave the Lilongwe City Council to construct Biwi Clinic in Lilongwe.
Early 2012, the Government of Japan gave the council US$193,515 (approximately K146 million) under the Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) to enable city authorities construct the clinic.
The project, which was to run for 10 months, was conceptualised with a view to decongest Bwaila Hospital and Kamuzu Central Hospital.
However, it has taken the council over six months to complete the project because authorities at the council embezzled the money.
Thus, when she handed over the facility to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa on Wednesday afternoon, Yanagisawa expressed her anger, disappointment and frustration over the way city fathers had handled the project.
“Under the GGP, implementing organisations in Malawi are fully responsible for the management of the project, including designing, procurement, contract, supervision and payment while the Government of Japan is merely funding. Unfortunately, it has taken over six years for the Lilongwe City Council to complete the project instead of the initially agreed 12 months,” she said.
The envoy observed that the delay to finish the project was mainly due to the engagement of unqualified contractors to do the designs who ended up with a substandard work that led to the collapse of a pillar at the main entrance as well as incompliance with the regulation of the District Health Office.
“During the same period, an inspection team of the Audit Office of the Government of Japan visited the project in May 2017. After onsite visits and interviews with relevant officials, the team concluded that the project had not been producing intended impacts.
“The audit report was sent to the National Diet of Japan as one of the very few unsuccessful cases and was disclosed to the general public. This has serious negative impacts on subsequent projects in Malawi as funding has significantly been reduced over the past two years,” stressed Yanagisawa.
Nankhomwa acknowledged the challenges the project faced, including embezzlement of the resources at the council.
The minister was, however, quick to assure the ambassador of Government of Malawi’s commitment to root out corruption and theft of public resources in the councils.
“Let me take this opportunity to warn officials at the councils, who have taken advantage of the decentralisation to abuse public resources, that we will not spare anyone. We will prosecute anybody caught stealing public resources,” he said.
Nankhumwa implored the Government of Japan to consider providing additional resources to enable government procure the equipment for use in the new clinic.
But Yanagisawa told journalists that her government would not provide any additional funding to the project.
“Our funding have been exhausted. So, we are not providing any additional funding. I can only urge the Lilongwe City Council and the District Health Office to step up efforts to ensure deployment of adequate staff as well as necessary medicine and equipment to the facility,” she said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :