Mzuzu to lose K65m on ‘fake street lights poles’

Cash strapped Mzuzu City Council is always prominently in the news for the wrong reasons. This time around it is the production of concrete poles to be used for the street lights project.

The concrete poles that have been erected and those on the various roads to be erected already have cracks, which mean they can absorb water hence lessening their life span.

Or since they have reinforced bars inside and that electricity lines that pass through them are usually not insulated – the result will  be deadly, according to contractor who did not want to be named.

A total of 500 concrete poles have been earmarked for production and already 60 have been delivered. Workers at the Production site, which is behind National Bus company depot in Mzuzu, told NyasaTimes that each pole has been bought at MK130,000 and that translate to MK 65 million.

But what is fun is that a senior City Council official has publicly confirmed the shoddy work on the poles during a public meeting held in Mzuzu on Wednesday.

The Council called the meeting to launch its Participatory Slum upgrading Programme.

“We share the same concerns that quality is not good but we just want to conclude their contracts so that we hire others,” said an official from the engineering department when queried about the poor quality of the poles.

The official said the Council could not immediate cancel the contract because it did not want to lose more money.

The official said initially the Council had wanted to hire the company that produced the concrete poles used in Lilongwe and Kasungu but failed due to inadequate funds.

“So we hired local contractors as one way of building capacity so that in future we have our own suppliers in the north,” he said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and DPP Presidential candidate Professor Arthur Mutharika last Saturday symbolically switched on street lights in a K110 million projects aimed to rehabilitate the lights in the city.

But Mutharika was shepherded to the newly painted silver metal poles that dot streets in the Central Business District and hence did not see concrete ones that have been planted on some roads that snake out of the city.

He could have been shocked.

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