Motorists should brace for prolonged inconveniences through traffic jams on the 650 metres stretch of Churchill Road in Limbe as the project has missed yet another deadline. Now the tentative completion period points to mid 2017.
Earlier this year, Roads Authority (RA) prioritised Churchill Road among the selected city roads for upgrading using proceeds from the road maintenance levy collected from fuel prices at the pump.
Initially, the project, involving upgrading of the section between Illovo Roundabout and Midima Magistrate’s Court into a dual carriageway, was projected to cost K407 million. It was estimated to last 90 days from April 4 2016.
However, due to delayed relocation of equipment by utility service providers, 90 days elapsed with no progress, prompting RA to shift the deadline to December 1 2016.
But spot checks yesterday, seven days after the deadline, it was noted that the contractor, Fargo Limited, was yet to complete the first double-lane and yet to embark on the other stretch.
During the visit, The Nation saw that some sections of the first double-lane were yet to be tarred while some were yet to have slabs fixed.
In an earlier interview, RA spokesperson Portia Kajanga attributed the delays to the contractor.
“RA, therefore, feels the contractor is largely responsible for some of the delays and lack of progress on the site,” she said.
While admitting the blame, an official of Fargo Limited said the delays were a shared problem and revealed that rains will drag the work further as they are unable to work on wet soils. The source said they need about a week to open the first double lane to traffic and start working on the next ones.
The official said it would take them three or more months to complete the project because the contractual agreement continues to change.
Our effort to get a comment from RA proved futile as the authority could not respond to our e-mail immediately. The authority’s acting chief executive officer engineer Francis Dimu confirmed receiving our questionnaire and said someone was working on it.
However, an RA source described the missing of the deadline a sad development and predicted that the road will be ready around mid 2017.
Said the source: “The problem is that there were a number of issues that were overlooked such as relocation, drainage system and reusable materials on the site. These will delay the project further. It is true that the contractor is demanding extra money because the construction plans slightly changed as the authority was trying to match Churchill Road to Masauko Chipembere Highway standards because the initial plan was developed over four years ago”
The source added that the issue of money was already discussed and they are following all steps and once the amount is adopted by all concerned parties, they will pay and set a new deadline for the construction.
This week, the construction is in its ninth month, confirming lapses in project management as exposed in the 2016 Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) report which showed that project management crisis in Malawi, is broader, deeper and expensively entrenched.