The Njakwa-Livingstonia Road contractor Mota-Engil has demanded K2.319 billion interest from government for delayed payment of construction works.
The 78.5 kilometres (km) road, which former president Peter Mutharika launched in March 2015–expected to be completed in November this year—will cost K39. 91 billion.
A Roads Authority (RA) document on the project shows that the total certified amount to date is K31.358 billion, but the amount paid to the contractor is K28.401 billion, leaving an outstanding balance of K2.286 billion.
This came to light on Wednesday as Vice-President Saulos Chilima inspected the road. The contractor slowed down the works in the past due to delayed payments, but outstanding payments for works and price escalations were made in March.
It reads: “Total certified amount to date is K31. 358 billion but the amount paid to the contractor is K28. 401 billion and the outstanding amount to be paid is K2. 286 billion, of which K2. 139 billion is interest on delayed payment while K147 million is for
Besides financial constraints, construction works originally scheduled to be completed in May 2020, were delayed by persistent rainfall.
A representative from the Roads Fund Administration Alex Makhwatha was optimistic that the road would be completed by November, saying funding was not an issue at the moment.
He said: “So far, so good, we do not have issues on financing”—even when Chilima asked several times to confirm the date of completion of the remaining 51 kilometres.
In a separate interview, Mota-Engil spokesperson Thomas Chafunya said the company has all it needs to complete the works, as long as government provides the resources.
He said: “We have the team, capabilities and equipment ready. We wait for the client to facilitate what is needful for the work to be done. All that is needed is finances.”
In an interview after touring the project, Chilima said the road was
wide enough and he was satisfied with the designs, but he expected it to be completed by November.
He said: “The commitment made is that the whole stretch, spanning 78 kilometres would be completed in six months, which means it should be done by October or early November, at the very latest. We will leave it with that deadline, and then the Roads Fund Administration has confirmed that funding will no longer be an issue.
“This means that we will be on track, what we have been told by the engineer and Roads Authority is that their biggest challenge has been rains, so soon after the rains, they can do it a little faster.”
Chilima also said they had investigated reports that some places had been washed away, but said it was water seepage which had been rectified.
In terms of progress, clearing and grubbing has been done on 52km, formation on 48km, sub-basing on 38km, while base course is on 24km.
Priming has only been done on 22km, so too first seal surfacing, while slurry seal has been competed on 19km, which is 24 percent of the entire stretch.
The road will open up the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia’s historic mission station at Khondowe, a stunning tourist attraction which is home to University of Livingstonia, Gordon Memorial Hospital and legendary Scottish missionary Robert Laws’ iconic Stone House.
It splits the Henga Valley—an agricultural hinterland for tobacco, maize and coffee—on the way to Livingstonia and descends the treacherously mountainous terrain through Golodi Road, a narrow winding road built in 1906 by the early missionaries. It also leads to Kaziwiziwi Coal Mine on Phoka Hills.