Completion of three teacher training colleges (TTCs) in Rumphi, Mchinji and Chikwawa districts is dragging following government’s delay to release the required K6 billion.
The project, which started in 2018 and was expected to be completed by January 2020, was pegged at $42 million (about K33 billion) out of which government was supposed to provide K9 billion (30 percent) based on initial calculations.
Badea, Saudi Fund for Development and Opec Fund for International Development pledged to provide the larger chunk of the funding estimated at K26 billion. So far, government has made available K3.4 billion for the project.
This was revealed on Tuesday when Vice-President Saulos Chilima toured the project site in Rumphi.
Commenting on the matter, Chilima said lack of funding was a common feature in most projects nationwide.
He said government will ensure that all projects that are under construction are completed.
Said Chilima: ” We hope that we can source the balance, which is about K3 billion and give it to them to finish the structure.
“The quality is good, but the challenge will be water although they sunk boreholes. We will have to bring Northern Region Water Board, that’s a discussion we will need to have with the Ministry of Natural Resources.”
On her part, Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said the visit by the Veep helped government to understand and appreciate the priorities on uncompleted projects.
A document from the Ministry of Education on procurement of works for construction of the three shows that government was supposed to provide Rumphi TTC with K2. 1 billion, K2.2 billion for Mchinji TTC and K1. 6 billion for Chikwawa TCC based on the initial project agreement.
It reads: “Completion of works has delayed due to low budget allocation. Budget allocation for the current financial year has been exhausted. As such, interim payment certificates are not being paid. So far, only K3. 4 billion out of the K 9 billion has been funded and, currently, the government of Malawi owes the contractors about K1. 7 billion in total for the three TTCs.”
According to the brief, in the 2021/22 financial year, the budget provision for the three TTCs is K2 billion, which means K4 billion more is remaining.
At Rumphi TTC, contractor Gianluca Bizzaro of SR Nicholas Limited said apart from funding, the coronavirus pandemic has also been a major challenge.
He said: “We have been forced to relocate how we are working, basically reduce staff to maintain social distancing and that has been a challenge. On funding challenges, this contract and the one in Mchinji, the funding is by two agencies, government and international donors.
“We hope that if funding is provided, for Mchinji and Rumphi we should be able to complete. We have K2. 5 billion left to complete the structure here.”