Mota-Engil in concession fraud on Lake Malawi ports

Government of Malawi through the ministry of transport fraudulently awarded Portuguese multidisciplinary engineering group Mota Engil, a concession to own and operate all lake ports and public marine vessels.

Mota-Engil won the concession to manage Malawi Lake Services (MLS), a State-owned entity that runs water transport services in the Southern African country after shrugging off competition from two other firms: ETC Marine and Jeilo Investments.

But Nyasa Times has learned the concession, erroneously signed by a cabinet minister, will give ‘abusive’ powers to the company to thwart any competition in water transportation.

Mota-Engil’s chairperson of board of directors Antonio Mota (R)

“A minister is never the legal person to sign for such a private public sector partnership. Secondly, there was no bid whatsoever on this development,” said our source from the ministry.

The concession deal was counter-signed by Mota-Engil’s chairperson of board of directors Antonio Mota.

She added government simply put the agreement made between it and Mota Engil on the late Mutharika’s pet project, the Nsanje World Inland Port, as an addendum to carry through with the illegal transaction.

“The company will soonest operate all ports including Chipoka, Nkhata-Bay and Chilumba and beyond. It will be free to charge its services as it pleases. This threatens all other marine transporters,” she said.

Mota Engil made provision for Malawian participation of up to 20% in a special-purpose vehicle that will operate the MLS concession. The Malawi government will be entitled to 2,5% of gross revenue, while 1%  will be directed towards supporting the government-owned Marine Training College.

The Portuguese firm also said it would build a $10-million hotel in the Monkey Bay area, a tourism hub, in a joint venture arrangement.

Government continues with the agreement illegally made with late Mutharika administration.

Published reports recently revealed that  Mota –Engil made some periodic payments in 2010 and 2011 to the late president Bingu wa Mutharika personally.

The construction company made separate cheque payments to the late president from as low as K1 million (about $4 000) to as high as K10 million (about $40 000) at a time.

According to flagship newspaper, The Nation, it had seen paid cheques amounting to K13.5 million (about $54 000) into late Mutharika’s account.

Mota Engil  – which initially ventured into the Malawi market as a road construction contractor- defended the payments as donations towards a cause.

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