- The Austrian contractor Strabag International has doubts competence of other bidders and thinks Malawians will get a raw deal and poor infrastructure.
- Has decided to withdraw from tender of rehabilitation of Lilongwe-Blantyre M1 Road to avoid being drawn in a cat and dog fight on price than quality.
- Suggests that capabilities of contractors must include a sound level of technical and financial strength to assure a good standard of delivery and durability
Following the furore that is surrounding poor workmanship by contractors on Malawian road projects, Strabag International GmbH has withdrawn from the tender process to rehabilitate and widen four sections of Lilongwe-Blantyre M1 Road.
Strabag International is a contractor that successfully rehabilitated the 46.1km Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay (M05) Road dubbed one of the best roads in the country, delivered on time and on budget with surplus used to build the Mzuzu city dual carriageway – says has been waiting the tender for the rehabilitation and widening of the M1 for a long time.
But a statement to Roads Authority dated April 23 said the company was “delighted about the tender notification” that was flighted to the public by the Roads Authority and on March 31, 2021 it expressed its “interest to participate in the tender”.
The contractor further says it “attended both the site visit and pre-bid meeting that took place between 14th and 16th April 2021”.
“During the site visit, we noticed a high interest of numerous contractors from different parts of the world to participate in the tender process,” says the company.
The contractor highlights the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay (M05) road that it was done with “the highest quality standard and a timely delivery” but says: “Knowing most of the competitors attending the site visit and pre-bid meeting, we doubt that this level of quality with low maintenance results will be achieved by the majority of the other contractors in the race.
“Consequently, we expect that most of these firms will submit a price much lower than ours, possibly not even covering our costs.
“Despite our excellent experience made in Malawi with our [Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay (M05) road] project, successfully executed in the period 07/2017 until 06/2018 and with high respect for your Road Authority and work in Malawi in general, we see ourselves unable to participate in this European Investment Bank (EIB) financed project.
“Therefore, we are compelled to inform you, that Strabag International GmbH will not tender for four sections of the M1 Road and herewith withdraws its interest in this project.”
The statement was signed by its technical director, Dyrick Wellershaus and commercial director Oliver Schupe, who further said: “We sincerely regret this step and — with due respect — suggest in future to perform a prequalification process prior to the bidding process”.
“The capabilities of your contractors — that you will be working with over a few years during the construction phase — must include a sound level of technical and financial strength to assure a good standard of delivery and durability.
“This capability needs to be checked prior and during the evaluation of tenders. A weighted scoring with defined rating criteria for a Technical Bi and a Price Bid allows the Employer to identify the most advantageous bid instead of the lowest bid only.
“This way only a limited number of qualified companies with financial strength and technical capability to perform such large projects, can participate in the bidding process and the circumstances are improved for all competitors,” say Wellershaus and Schupe.
The furore over poor workmanship has come to the fore after the death of three people — a Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officer and his other two friends from the Immigration Department officer — who died on the night of April 21 after the car they were travelling in plunged into a flooded river when they failed to notice that the Kyungu Bridge had been washed away by strong rain water flow.
Soon after the death of the three, Vice-President Saulos Chilima — who was in the North inspecting some development projects at the instructions of President Lazarus Chakwera — visited the spot of the accident in the company of Paramount Chief Kyungu himself.
Chilima said in a statement on Facebook that the focus was to re-open traffic by the next day in which works was to fill up the washed away section with 120 trucks of quarry and rocks while “issues of negligence and poor workmanship will be handled later, but for now the focus is to open traffic.”
The Vice-President has time and again reiterated strong warnings that poor workmanship by contractors will not be tolerated.
The Roads Authority then issued a statement after the bridge was temporary opened for traffic that the washed away bridge was constructed in the late 1980s when the road was being constructed but being a “problematic area it also got washed away in 2002”.
The Roads Authority attests to the fact that “during the Karonga-Songwe rehabilitation project, the scope of works did not include construction of the Kyungu Bridge, but the road was rehabilitated, where the existing road was milled down to 200mm and this material was processed to make sub-base”.
“The milled material was crushed stone, and another 150mm thick layer of crushed stone was constructed. The wearing course was constructed in 40mm thick asphalt concrete [as done by] the contractor Zhejiang Communications Group Co. Ltd”.
But the Roads Authority says “due to the proximity of the contractor to the wash away site” Zhejiang Communications Group Co. Ltd “has been asked to reinstate the washed away section”.
But People’s Republic of China Embassy in Malawi disowned the attribution to the wash away of the Kyungu Bridge on Zhejiang Communications Group Co. Ltd, taking cognizance that the Roads Authority has already said the scope of work the company was contracted did not include construction and strengthening of this bridge.
The Embassy says it has communicated with the Malawi Roads Authority and takes cognizance that “the bridge was constructed in the late 1980s and Zhejiang Communications Group Co. Ltd’s scope of work did not include the construction and strengthening of Kyungu Bridge”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :