The European Investment Bank (EIB) has given a ‘no-objection’ to the award of contracts for the long-standing rehabilitation of the M1 section from Lilongwe to Rumphi almost three years after Malawi obtained a loan.
In a written response on Sunday, Roads Authority (RA) acting chief executive officer Engineer Francis Dimu confirmed receiving the clearance from the EIB on the tender.
He said: “We indeed received the ‘no-objection’ and we are currently in the mandatory standstill period which is up to 16th June 2022. During this period, no further procurement action can be undertaken.”
And in a statement shared on social media, w h i c h T h e N a t i o n corroborated, Ministry of Transport and Public Works public relations officer Kelvin Sato said the EIB granted the ‘no-objection’ on June 1 2022.
He said President Lazarus Chakwera will preside over the ground-breaking for the event on July 5 2022.
Sato indicated that four contractors have been identified for construction of the four sections extending over about 347 kilometres.
C h i n a J i a n g x i International & Jiangxi Transport Limited will handle the Kamuzu International Airport Turn-off to Kasungu Boma while Mota Engil has been allocated the Kasungu Boma to Jenda in Mzimba section.
From Jenda to Mzimba Turn-off, the works will be done by Unik Construction Engineering (Pty) Limited while China Henan Internat ional Company Limited will be responsible for the section from Kacheche in Mzimba to Chiweta in Rumphi.
Sato said the project is expected to cost about 117 million euro, but our calculation based on how much each of the selected contractors quoted during bidding shows that the rehabilitation works may cost roughly about 119 million euro.
In November 2019, the Malawi Government and the European Union (EU) signed a financial agreement for 139 million euro as contribution towards the rehabilitation of the M1. Out of the amount, 95.5 million euro was a loan from EIB and 43.1 million euro a grant from the EU.
A 2019 RA study funded by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) condemned most parts of the M1 between Lilongwe and Karonga. The report acknowledged that the road poses a serious danger to users.
Police statistics indicate that the M1 accounts for about 90 percent of road accidents in the country killing more than 1200 people per year.
In our earlier story in 2020, top government officials at both Treasury and RA blamed donor bureaucracy as the cause for the delay in rehabilitation works.