Malawi government has terminated a K5.1 billion contract with contractor Mota Engil to build the Rumphi-Nyika-Nthalire-Chitipa Road as Roads Authority has been given a K90 billion bill by the Portuguese contractor for infrastructure construction.
Roads Authority is disputing the figure, saying it is on the higher side and would be engaging the Roads Fund Administration to determine the exact amount owed to engineering company Mota-Engil.
Roads Authority chief executive officer Engineer Emmanuel Matapa said the first phase of the road’s construction, covering 20 kilometres, was launched by former president Peter Mutharika in 2018, only six kilometres was partly constructed with Mota Engil attributing the development to Capital Hill’s failure to provide the contractor with resources.
Matapa said there were “some contractual disputes” which has resulted in termination of that 20-kilometre contract.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nancy Chaola Mdooko toured the road to appreciate challenges that people of Rumphi and Chitipa face and the need to expedite construction.
She said government will “soon`’ start constructing the road.
Currently, Mdooko said , government has identified “some resources” to do the grading and graveling mostly in the difficult parts.
“Let me assure the people of Nthalire, Rumphi and Nyika that the Tonse government is a listening one and in six months time, the main project will start. But for the grading, it will start very shortly,” she said.
Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe said “there should be less talking, and more action” in constructing the road passes through Nyika National Park, which has one of the most beautiful and rare landscapes and wildlife.
The Portuguese firm wrote the Roads Authority demanding settlement of a K90 billion debt in form of project dues and interest on delayed payments, mostly dating back to 2008.
The company claims that it has halted several ongoing projects including procurements due to lack of funds.
In a letter addressed to the Roads Authority, Mota Engil indicates that the authority owes it the money in form of project dues and interest on delayed payments on some projects.
The letter signed by the engineering giant’s managing director, Nuno Antunes, states that most of the arrears date back to 2008.
Antunes discloses that in view of the development, the company has halted some projects that it is undertaking as it is not able to finance several activities including procurements.
But Roads Authority said that though they believe that the contractor is owed money, the amount may not be as claimed because payments have been made in the past couple of months.
Commentators have been questioning the justification behind Malawi government’s glaring favouring of Mota-Engil, when it is awarding contracts in the road construction projects.
A private practice lawyer Ishmael Wadi faults the Malawi government for allegedly promoting Mota-Engil to the level of a monopoly and has in the process killed competition and fair bidding.
Wadi – who served briefly as Director of Public Prosecution under the late Bingu wa Mutharika administration – adds that other companies like Shire Construction Limited, which he argues are equally competent and capable, have been put on the sidelines because they refused to bribe powers-that-be in government.
“Equally, Terrastone, Master Construction have been marginalized. Here I haven’t spoken of Malawi owned companies like Deco (Dini Lungu), Maluza and many others. How do you expect Malawians to excel when they are not being awarded tenders?” he asks.
The second most-favoured company, Zhajoung of China, is engaged in government road projects worth just K15 billion.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :