Communities from M’baluku Ntagaluka in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Chowe in Mangochi are accusing officials of Mangochi Town Council of abusing a Local Development Fund money meant for the construction of a classroom block and toilets at St. Augustine 2 Primary School in the area, saying this has culminated in failure to finish the project.
The communities comprising of chiefs, school management committees and teachers, suspect the council officials swindled the money hence rendering the project to stay in limbo more than 14 months since its commencement as opposed to its initial period of 3 months.
They also faulted the council for lacking transparency and accountability on management of the fund (LDF), saying the council undermined LDF guidelines and procedures of not involving the school management committee in the procuring, managing of project materials and the identification of artisans.
The communities’ anger comes after the council failed to fulfill their promise of finishing the project by 30 March this year as agreed in the previous meeting convened by the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE)Trust early this year which ended up by the council been given an ‘ultimatum of 40 days.’
“Why is it that the classroom block is failing to be completed? We smell a rat here. May be the council misappropriated the funds and it is failing to finish the project,” said Chairman of the school management committee, Billy Salimu.
He added: “We suggest that the council be audited before resumption of the project. This structure does not match with MK 21 million endorsed on this project. I suspect they have stolen a lot of money here.”
Salimu further bemoaned the quality of the structure, saying it’s sub-standard owing it to the council’s poor identification of skilled artisans for the mere reason of reaping them.
But Director of Public Works for the council, Dustan Mphonde, quashed the allegations, in an interview, saying the people have scanty information pertaining to the project.
He said, for example, the total amount of the project was MK15.5 million and the money was prudently spent.
While admitting the delays, he pointed out that the building will be completed two weeks in time and everything will go smoothly as planned.
“Let me swallow my pride that the project has indeed stalled but be assured of its completeness in the next two weeks. It’s just that the builder which we hired to construct the building ran away to Mozambique after borrowing huge sums of money from people in the community and we had to find the other one,” said Mphonde.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :