Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has outlined plans to build a 20-storey new Escom House in Blantyre that will be constructed in two and half years at a cost in excess of K15 billion.
Escom board chairperson Frederick Changaya announced the plans on Friday in Blantyre when the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Infrastructure toured the old Escom House which was destroyed by fire in October 2013.
He said Escom board has opted for a public private partnership (PPP) model under what is called build, own, operate and transfer, observing that waiting for government to provide money for the construction of the house will take forever.
“Money is not a problem. What is the problem is the plan. With a project of that magnitude, it is not the money that will come from government. It means it will take forever,” he said, adding that within four to five months, they should be able to procure a private entity to do the work.
Changaya said Escom already has K1.3 billion which they got from insurers.
In 2019, Escom stirred public debate when it awarded a contract to Irrigwater and Mining Equipment to demolish the burnt house at a cost of K675 million. The parastatal eventually cancelled the contract following public outcry.
Changaya said they will settle for one company to demolish and construct a modern structure that will have a multi-storey car park to accommodate more than 300 vehicles for Escom employees and others.
“The designs are at an advanced stage. We want to make sure that within the remaining four months, architectural and engineering structural plans are well approved, including the procurement of the contractor,” he said.
Changaya said the new house will enable the utility to save K40 million a month incurred in rentals at Umoyo House.
This means for the past eight years, the parastatal has spent more than K3.5 billion in rentals.
On his part, the committee’s chairperson Uchizi Mkandawire commended Escom board for the plans to build a modern building.
He said Escom board and management have acknowledged that they were wrong and could have done better.
He said: “There were attempts to engage a contractor to demolish the house.
“Those efforts did not materialise. Malawians felt that the amount of the money involved was just too hefty.”
Mkandawire said the committee is on a one-week visit of some of the institutions to play their oversight role.