Khato Holdings Limited, a South African-based firm owned by a Malawian Ashani Simbi Phiri has given constructive justification for the cost and timeline of the $500 million project to pipe water from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe, the capital city.
Simbi, Khato’s founder and chairperson, told a group of journalists from Malawi at the firm’s headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa that his multi-billion kwacha investments are expected to create over 10 000 jobs.
Most of the employment opportunities will be in auxiliary services to complement the core personnel of Khato Civils and South Zambezi.
There will be a lot of quarrying, and the project will need heavy machine operators, drivers, engineers, welders and those who will be involved in rebar and mortar construction.
The company, through a joint venture of Khato Civils (Pty) Limited and Zambezi (Pty), was contracted by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and Malawi Government to install the water pipeline project following a closed tender process involving over six companies and a successful business pitch at the Malawi Investment Forum (MIF).
Simbi told journalists that a recent critique by Kenneth Wiyo, an associate professor at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) who is also a certified registered engineer with over 22 years of experience on power supply needed to pump the water was baseless.
He said the bidding documents of the project can be inspected, saying his company was successful bidders in the open tender process for the project that will pump over 50 million litres of water a day from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe.
“We are very much aware of the scope that the project is going to take. Firstly, while others may seem to argue with us on the cost of the project, what we can say is that not all the R500 million will be coming to us as Khato,” said Simbi.
“We are professional at what we do and we guarantee that our works just as you have seen here have standards.
“Before we even started implementing the project, we had already met some Electricity Corporation of Malawi officials on the power challenges that Malawi is facing. To this end we resolved to use other alternative energy sources which include solar, wind and diesel up to the period when the company is able supply secure power to the grid.
“We have a lot of technologies coming from Europe on solar battery tech and we will ensure that this is done in time.”
The project entails a steel pipeline that stretches over 130 km and will have three big pump stations to ensure that there are no bottlenecks in the flow of water to the capital. It also features a water treatment plant and three reservoirs in Lilongwe.
Khato Civils has invested in two cutting-edge Tesmec Trenchers able to dig 2km per day of trenches for laying pipes. Each of the Tesmec Trenchers is worth about $2-million (R26-million) each.
“We are excited about the project and will deliver the best value to the people of Malawi. We continue to make sure as a company that we invest in the best equipment, latest technology and innovation to deliver the best quality projects in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
Simbi explained that the project would improve the lives of millions of people, not only in Malawi but the whole region. He said such a massive infrastructural project would open up investment opportunities.
“This ground-breaking project will be catalyst for growth as it not only will improve drinking water sanitation, hygiene and waste water management. It will see the growth of industries and the manufacturing sector leading in the growth of new towns.
“This will also drive growth in foreign direct investment since many companies consider water resources when making decisions about where to invest or locate their facilities,” Simbi said.
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