Strabag, The Mzuzu-NkhataBay Road contractor withdraws from M1 Project

  • 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furore that is surrounding poor workmanship by contractors on Malawian road projects, Strabag International GmbH has withdrawn from the tender process to rehabilitate and widen four sections of Lilongwe-Blantyre M1 Road.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.

The 46.1km Mzuzu -NkhataBay Road

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”.

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Time Changes, be dynamic
Time Changes, be dynamic
1 year ago

The withdrawal by Strabag is an eye opener to Tonse Govt to have their own eyes wide open on the construction industry in Malawi. First, did you remove the rubble this side? Second, please walk the talk. The system is so permeated with behind-the-scenes deals in which even your Tonse ministers are already involved. Poor workmanship should not be the talk this time around. Therefore, revamp the procurement system in Malawi. Some procurement officers in Government can even openly challenge you why you chose your career other than procurement! Too much cutting of corners in procurement processes in Government. I… Read more »

Scuba
Scuba
1 year ago

Actually, the Strabag Mzuzu – Nkhatabay road is the best in the country, there is no other road like it even close, a World class master piece of engineering.

SES
SES
1 year ago

Doubt if STRABAG is the best of the best of this country and beyond. Best business contractors tender per its brand and the market per past successful deliveries locally and abroad may award you the job should quality be priority.

Should this article imply that the concerned is trying bring attention to the current government for favors or promote the business.

Time Changes, be dynamic
Time Changes, be dynamic
1 year ago
Reply to  SES

I think they want to highlight lack of rigorous procurement practice by the construction industry in Malawi. You can not just heap all known contractors together and start bidding process without pre-qualification. Eg, when you get good grades at MSCE, you qualify for application and qualify to attend entrance exams to tertiary education. Now Strabag wants even the measurement benchmark to be fair and transparent as pricing is not a key determinant in the selection process. So I think they are right or else as Malawians we will keep on loosing our hardly earned resources down the drain.

OBAMA
OBAMA
1 year ago

We need Strabag to be given the contract becoz they make roads with less maintenace enawo ndi mbava.

Kuduhunter
Kuduhunter
1 year ago

Strabag is aware whats going on with the tenders is right to pull out and rightly so they do not want to get caught up in the corrupt practice
Just shows how honest and straight forward this contractor is and we have seen the work they do
RA and gov need to wake up

ress
ress
1 year ago

Strabag should be given the contract. We know how professional they are.

The rest of Chinese companies and Mota will give Malawian a raw deal.

A FEW GOOD MEN
A FEW GOOD MEN
1 year ago

gIve it to strabag without bidding

Ntchuka kenan
Ntchuka kenan
1 year ago

Strabag is good company I have seen their work. But our politicians am sure they are trying their best to get cheap chinese contractor.

Opportunist
Opportunist
1 year ago

Strabag please do not withdraw from construction of our roads otherwise the rest are just interested in chewing our monies.I visited one construction in road,good quality .

KWANTERE
KWANTERE
1 year ago

Strabag is a good company with a great reputation. I worked with them during the construction of Mzuzu – Nkhatabay road. They do not compromise on quality or get influenced by politics. We used to see government guys getting furious at the site offices because they were denied bribes. They have done great by pulling out because the way i know our government and Roads Authority, they are going to pick a cheap Chinese or Indian company so that they can fill the rest of the money in their pockets, something which Strabag does not do

Nsomba Mkumutu.
Nsomba Mkumutu.
1 year ago
Reply to  KWANTERE

Mabodza awa! mwathawa mpikisano apa!

Baba Tunde
Baba Tunde
1 year ago

What mpikisano. Strabag does the best roast and proof us there. You can’t compare their work with these Chinese companies and the thieving Mota Engil. You must be one of those leeches at NRA

Kambewa Ngozo
1 year ago

FOSEKI
STRABAG is one of the best companies to work on roads in Malawi. Unfortunately our corrupt government officials will pick Mota company of Portugal because they will get kick back.

Nkholopanja
Nkholopanja
1 year ago

Strabag is the people’s choice. Koma poti mabwana mufuna mudyepo…sankhani wanuyo ife tizifa.

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