Minister of Irrigation and Water Development Charles Mchacha has assured beneficiaries who are yet to be compensated in line with the K175 billion Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP), Conduril, irrigation canal in Chikwawa that the project will sort them out in three weeks time.
Mchacha made the remarks on Wednesday when he toured the first batch of phase one programme site in Chikwawa District against the background of worries by some beneficiaries over delays to have their compensation.
He said government has already paid out about K1.13 billion to affected people and that the remaining group was yet to receive their money.
“You know that we always have challenges in whatever projects we have but I can assure you that as a ministry together with the project and the contractor, we have resolved the challenges.
“In two or three weeks coming, we will be finishing disbursing the money to those affected. We don’t have much problems in that regard now,” he said.
However, Mchacha said from the time the project was launched in March by President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, he was impressed with the progress by the contractor amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
He said: “When President Peter Mutharika launched the programme last month, he said it would move Malawi from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture.
“At the rate the works are going at the site, I am sure that people will benefit from the project soon.”
Mchacha said it is the wish of President Mutharika to see this project completed “as soon as possible to enable people here benefit from the intiative.”
Conduril Contractor Project Manager, Aires Enosse said the works are progressing well, noting that they have so far cleared 95 percent of the main canal route.
Enosse said they have now started excavating some drainage structures, adding: “We are soon expecting to start working on the main canal.”
“The big challenge is the Covid-19 because there were some equipment to bring from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe but since the borders in some of those countries have been closed; we are not able to bring all the equipment into ghe country,” he said.
He added that they only have 10 percent of the required machinery, hoping that the pandemic would not exist for a longer time to enable the company deliver the project on time.
SVTP project coordinator Sandram Maweru said they are engaging the contractor to ensure that no time is lost amid Covid-19 pandemic since the first phase is expected to take place within 30 months.
“We are working out a plan to ensure that we don’t lose much time because that [losing time] is costly since we might end up spending more than planned,” he said.
The SVTP is expected to irrigate 43 370 hectares by extracting water from Shire River at Kapichira Falls and conveying it by gravity through canals to the irrigable area in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.
The programme seeks to increase agricultural productivity and commercialisation for targeted households in the Shire Valley and to improve sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources.
SVTP is expected to cough out about US$234 million (approximately K169,650,000,000) in its 52 kilometres first phase from Kapichira intake but the batch of six kilometres from the intake currently worked on will cost the project $31 million (approximately K22, 475, 000,000).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :