The upgraded Kamuzu Barrage at Liwonde in Machinga is expected to be completed in October this year, 12 months after missing the initial deadline, an official has said.
Speaking in an interview after a media tour of the barrage on Friday, government site engineer Toney Nyasulu said the works are at an advanced stage.
“If we consider the civil works in terms of the bridge, which has 14 pillars, we have done 13 pillars and expect to finish the other by end of June and proceed with the road works. In terms of the mechanical work, which is the gates of the barrage, all the materials are on site and we have fitted 13 of them,” he said.
Nyasulu said the other major task is installing the weed collector.
There have been concerns that project delays will see government incurring additional costs, but Nyasulu said most of the delays were caused by the contractors; hence, they will meet any additional costs.
“The core factors that delayed the work were in the mobilisation of resources by the contractors, the manufacturer of the gates also delayed in completing the work and since the work is being done under the water, the condition of the ground was not known until during construction, and so some adjustments had to be made.
“Contractors are expected to cover these delay damages. However, there are additional costs, especially on the consultant engineer who is time based and these are what the government will pay,” he said without giving the figures.
Nyasulu added that the upgrade has saved the barrage from “an embarrassing collapse” due to emergent erosion under the ground towards the foundation. He said the upgraded barrage has erosion protector and energy dissipaters which are about 25 metres long from the foundation.
Kamuzu Barrage is part of the Adaptable Programme Loan for Shire River Basin Management Programme Project to develop the Shire River Basin planning framework to improve land and water management in targeted areas. The barrage is financed by the World Bank to the tune of $50 million (about K36.5 billion).
Shire River Basin Management Programme Project communication specialist Horace Nyaka said the project is important to Malawi because over six million people live along the Shire River Basin and the river is source to 98 percent of the country’s power generation.