Simbi’s Khato starts mobilising state- of-art equipment in readiness for Lake Malawi project

As preparations for commencement of the historical Lake Malawi Water Supply Project are at an advanced stage, the contractor of the project Khato Civils is mobilising heavy duty equipment in readiness for the multi-million dollar project, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Khato equipment for Salima water project

Khato equipment for Salima water project

Khato equipment for Salima water project

Latest to arrive in Malawi are two heavy duty tesmec trenchers 1675, commonly known as “rock eaters” that entered into Malawi through Mwanza border on Tuesday afternoon.

Simbi Phiri: project which is set to stimulate the economy and create vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities

Khato Civils Executive Chairperson Simbi Phiri told Nyasa Times  his company invested $4 million in purchasing the state- of-art machines from Italy.

The tesmec machines, according to the South African-based-Malawian billionnaire, weigh over 96 metric tonnes each and have the capacity to dig 10 metre-deep-piping-system at a distance of 15 kilometers per day.

“Yes its true we are mobilising in readiness for the Salima water project,” said the soft speaking Phiri.

He further said the trenchers are new and will be the first time to be used here in Africa.

“The machines are used in making piping system and do not see a hill or a stone, they dig at faster pace while sand is being thrown sideways, that is why its nicknamed ‘The Rock Eater’ it cuts the rock like bread,” explained Phiri.

Ironically, the two machines were reportedly detained in Mozambique for 45 days as the Mozambican government said they were too heavy to pass through its newly-built bridge.

“We had to pay over 1 million Rands to the Mozambique government to be allowed to pass through after being detained for over a month,” he added.

Phiri has since rejected notion that his company was poised to start the project without an environmental assessment.

Explained he: “I don’t know whether its lack of understanding of these things or just twisting of information, but what i know is that we were appointed on EPC {meaning Engineering, Procurement and Construction} contract and in that package we were supposed to come up with a survey then final designs of the entire project which we did. The final designs will be handed over to a consultant appointed by the client.”

“There is no way you can do an enviromental assessment without those final designs, what will you be assessing in the absence of designs in the first place?” queried Phiri.

He added: “We are done with the final designs, the route of the pipeline has been established. What remains now is for the client to finalise the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Once that process is done we will be ready to roll. In the meantime as a company we have intensified mobilisation of all the necesarly resources. It is a vigorous and expensive process, may be that’s why we were awarded the contract because this project requires someone who has the technical and financial capacity to do the job efficiently.”

The business tycoon also added that he already has invested millions of dollars into the project, “that just tells you how much serious and committed I am for the project.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale has told the media that he was never against the project but advised government to follow procedures, a process he said is currently being done.

Said Kaphale: “I dont know where people are getting reports that I am against the project, I only advised government to make the project legally binding which I can confidently say it’s happening now.”

On his part, Malawi leader President Arthur Peter Mutharika told state-owned MBC Television recently the water project would make the capital city Lilongwe water sufficient for the next 100 years.

The project attracted mixed reactions from many Malawians on how Khato was to implement the project in the absence of an ESIA.

This prompted the Malawi Law Society to go to court to seek redress on the matter.

However, Nyasa Times investigations reveal that MLS jumped the gun as government through the Lilongwe Water Board was already in the process of identifying a consultant to carry out the assesment after the contractor had submitted final designs of the project.

Khato Civils won the $500 million project after seeing off competition from 6 other multi-national companies such as Mota Engil, Synohdro Tech and others in a closed tendering process.

Apart from the 130 kilometre pipeline, Khato will also construct a state- of- art water treatment plant right at the in-take in Salima so that the water also benefits communities along the pipeline.

Khato has also invested in alternative energy sources such as solar, windmill and batteries to make sure there is no interruption interms of pumping water from the lake.

Meanwhile, various bodies have weighed in to support the project saying it’s the only way to address acute water shortages in Lilongwe.

The bodies include Engineers Association of Malawi, Economists Association of Malawi (Ecama) and several other civil society groups.

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Peter Munro
Phiri buys jets,motorcycles, cars and brags that he is a billionaire, he also brags that he bought two state of the art Trenching machines costing millions of rands, but he did not pay for transportation of these machines from South Africa to Malawi, he left the transporters high and dry for 45 days waiting at the border posts without any food or without paying them one cent. He fetched them at the Malawian border, offloaded his machines and then he sent them back to the border to incurr major fines and detained the transporters vehicles at the border post. Just… Read more »
Water is life, unless it’s not water that will be pumped as others are portraying. If there are any environmental dangers, they are heavily outclassed by the advantages of the project, 1. If tanks can be installed on the route to destination, irrigation can be done in Salima and Lilongwe parts, providing employment and food sustainability in the districts, apart from employment during project period.. 2. Water is just wasted as it goes down to the ocean through the Shire and Zambezi Rivers. We would rather use it other than seeing it go to the ocean. Do not tell us… Read more »
prince biko

Ignorance- Simple do not know

Politician- A person skilled in deceit who generate their wealth by oppressing the poor.

Govenment- Derive from the latin word Guvern-mentis which means to control the minds.

Yahanan 8:32
And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

prince biko

They are not there to aquire water it is all deceit. These machines are used for drilling oil. You do not have to drill to tap into lake malawi even a child with some commonsense can see through that. Wake up people the muzungu are on the prowl with the aid of the pirate-tician to steal your resources and polute your water and your livelihood of eating fish.


Wow! So he can import two rock eaters which can trench 15 kilometers a day to ddig a 130kilometer stretch pipe line? Thenbthe rock eaters wilk do the job in just 5 days before we even know it. This guy has another contract in the offing not this one only. The maxhibes are too super for this project only. Gud he has Malawian colours


I welcome this project. Koma chonde tisaikepo ndale.

Ada Ngozi

Well, from my small civil engineering understanding, you start with Feasibility Studies and Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) to determine if the project is viable and satisfies and mitigates environmental issues prior to undertaking Detailed Designs and mobilization of plant.

Search me if am off line on the basic engineering principles.


I don’t understand the logic of bringing all these equipment before an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Are you assuming that the assessment will support the project? What if it shows that the project is not viable/feasible? I seriously doubt the credibility of any EIA relating to this project, it will be a mere rubber stamping.

Ngozo Che Bwemba

Vuto ndiloti ku Malawi tonse ndi mbuli.Mabwana malebala tonse mbuli zokhazokha apa munthu atola chikwama,tikumadandaula kuti nyanja ikuphwa. Lero tikachite kutenga kampani kumapopa madzi kupititsa ku Lilongwe muona ngati Mulungu anaiwala kuikako nyanja ku Lilongweko.Zinazi mukafuna kutibera misonkho yathu muziyamba mwafunsa Mulungu.


Malawi mpovuta kutukuka, mbamba zedi. We want to stand on the way always in many projects of national importance. Sikaletu tinakananso power interconnection bill ija yaku mazambiki tili ndi malemu Bingu Muntharika.

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