Lilongwe City Council angers Japan over Biwi Hospital project

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.

Nankhumwa (centre) hoists the cut ribbon to signify the opening hospital at the centre of controversy–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

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.

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Erik Peterson
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Erik Peterson

There’s always people who are selfish and will steal. You can see in the very roots of Malawi how the rich are happy to live like kings whilst the poor suffer. What stops this in most socieities is the rule of law. Those embezzlers clearly had confidence that the law is so poor that they would not be prosecuted. If they aren’t prosecuted I encourage everyone in Malawi to do the same as clearly the law doesn’t function and we’re living in a lawless society. What’s laughable is that after stealing money, they want more money. The mentality of parasitism… Read more »

Maliseche a Chimulirenji
Guest
Maliseche a Chimulirenji

so embarrasing!

Achiswe
Guest

It was a big mistake on the part of Japan to hand over the money for the project. Don’t they know that it is common practice in Malawi for those handling money intended for projects to help themselves to some of it? This is of course no excuse for the embezzlement. No wonder that lady was so furious. Japan will think twice before giving aid to Malawi in future. Such corrupt officials shame us all as Malawians.

Bristone Mabichi
Guest
Bristone Mabichi

Manyazi 10 months to 6 years!! Even after 6 years, there stands a substandard building. Ndiwo za madzulo mwasinkha masana, tiwona kuti zitha bwanji.

Angoni apaphata
Guest
Angoni apaphata

Ndikumapemphanso Zina…… Koma kupanda manyazi kwinaku inu …

Thieves
Guest
Thieves

Abiti Mtila akutinayo bwanji nkhaniyi….2012 she was in power

Peace
Guest
Peace

The madam Ambassador of Japan should cool down her anger over the past mistakes and consider furnishing the clinic and provision of necessary equipment with medicines to make it operational. It is absurd to provide a structure and leave it useless because it took the council too long to complete. Please, consider achieving the objective first but be proactive in your monitoring.
Japan has already spent a lot on the building, thank you, but, please, don’t let it stand as a white elephant!

Andrew khama
Guest
Andrew khama

What a stupid comment.

Chindere chakufikapo
Guest
Chindere chakufikapo

If its 6 years then this started during nthawi ya a mayi and kudya kunapitilila nthawi ya dpp. Mbava zokhazokha

Ndatopa
Guest
Ndatopa

CASHGATE!

che nnungu
Guest

Under DPP everything is in a mess

Sammy
Guest

Dont Blame Peter Blame Joyce Who Was President Btwn 2012 And 2014.

Mukuliranji
Guest
Mukuliranji

Change is coming nkhalamba zonse pa ulendo

Central
Guest
Central

The story says funding was done “Early 2012” and by implication the first quarter [Jan to March] of each year is usually what is regarded the period that is term “Early”. Now if you’re to go into history, you’ll appreciate that those resources were provided during Bingu’s rule. Hence DPP had a hand in this, why? its because it started happening under their watch. Nevertheless, if Joyce Banda’s government was responsible for the misuse, why has APM taken the five years without acting on this? Is he or was he waiting for Chakwera or CSOs to talk about it to… Read more »