Three years after experts recommended either renovation or demolition of the Malawi Embassy building in Ethiopia, government plans to reassess the poorly constructed structure.
The Malawi government built a chancery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to the tune of about K6 billion and was inaugurated in 2010. But by 2013, the double-storey building with an impressive outlook, developed cracks due to poor workmanship.
But the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, which in its 2007 assessment faulted the design and construction of the structure as responsible for the cracks, says it will have to carry another assessment to determine the way forward.
In a written response to our questionnaire the ministry’s spokesperson Andrew Mthiko said government plans to do another assessment because the previous one was not thorough.
“The DoB [Department of Building], however, noted that their assessment was not thorough enough and recommended that a comprehensive assessment be done by a local Ethiopian firm.
“The DoB developed terms of reference [ToR] to be used to identify the local Ethiopian consultant and it was expected that Malawi foreign mission in Addis would take charge of the whole procurement process with technical support from officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,” he said.
Mthiko said the ToR documents were finalised by Addis Ababa Mission in March 2020.
“And arrangements were underway at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to send a delegation
of the consultant [but] the Covid-19 pandemic struck and stalled the procurement process,” he said.to assist the identification
But a construction engineer, who refused to be named, questioned the intention to conduct another assessment, saying it was an act of wastefulness.
The engineer, who saw the 2017 assessment report, described the report as comprehensive.
“Based on what I have read and analysed, I do not understand why DoB wants another assessment. The report is sufficient and the most plausible thing to do is to demolish the life-threatening structure now than later. Do they want people to die first for them to act?” queried the engineer.
The engineer argued against remedial works as this will not only be expensive but cannot guarantee real safety.
The engineer’s sentiments are what the report recommended. The report considered remedial work as a short-term solution which would not fully cure the problems.
It reads in part: “As short term solution, it is recommended that the embassy engages a contractor and consultant to oversee rehabilitation. However, cracks may resurface at any time since the problem is in the foundation which cannot be treated as they are concealed in ground floor. Periodic sealing off of the cracks would therefore prove costly in the long run”.
But in his second response after we sought clarification, Mthiko said though the first assessment was without fault, the second one was meant to assess the remedial works to be done on the building.
The 2017 also reported roof water leakages “as a result of a combination of poor design and peeling off of water proofing membrane”.
The report after the assessment recommended two possible solutions; demolishing the building and raising a new one or provision of remedial works – which would be periodical but expensive.