Irked by low quality iron sheets and low grade cement supplied to beneficiaries of Decent and Affordable Housing (Cement and Malata) Subsidy Programme (DAHSP), government has cancelled contracts of 15 suppliers.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has also disclosed that it has returned iron sheets and cement to firms that supplied low grade materials to beneficiaries of the programme to prevent compromising on the strength of the affordable houses.
Beneficiaries of the K7 billion programme, as approved by the National Assembly in the 2015/16 financial year, discovered that companies that government contracted were supplying them with low grade materials that could not stand test of time.
The ministry, through its spokesperson Charles Vintulla, also disclosed in an interview last week that government cancelled contracts with 15 companies as they did not meet contractual requirements.
He did not specify the requirements the companies failed to meet. He also declined to name companies that did not meet the requirements or those that supplied low grade materials.
Vintulla said: “But after district councils received complaints following observations raised by technical people, government moved in swiftly and stopped further supply of such materials.
“We cannot name the suppliers that supplied these low grade materials, but the most important thing to mention is that the suppliers withdrew the low grade materials and they resupplied at their cost.”
He said instead of supplying 28 gauge iron sheets to the beneficiaries, some firms supplies 32 gauge sheets.
Vintulla said as for cement, instead of the quality government wanted, some companies supplied that of low quality which compromised on the standard of houses.
But Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito, while applauding government for returning the low grade materials said government should have taken a step further to terminate their contracts.
Kapito said: “Clearly, these companies knew what they were doing and any serious government would not want to associate itself or do business with such wayward suppliers.
“What guarantee is there that these companies are not likely to cheat again? It is commendable, if it is true that the low grade materials were returned, but that’s not enough. What happens to beneficiaries that used them and did not report this?”
He said obviously there were contracts the firms signed with government and specifications of materials government wanted, adding the supply of the low grade materials was a breach of the contracts signed.
The activist said government should have used its body, National Construction Industry (NCI), to monitor materials being passed on to the beneficiaries and the actual construction of the houses.
“Unless someone is benefiting from this, these contracts were supposed to be cancelled because the suppliers of such cheap materials are likely to cheat again and we should expect a lot of problems,” Kapito said.