Vendors at Lunzu Market will have to wait a little longer for the completion of construction of the market as government is yet to identify a contractor to take up its second phase.
According to district commissioner (DC) for Blantyre Bennet Nkasala, K300 million was spent in the first phase done by Nangaunozge Building Contractors.
However, only toilets, one market building and three other buildings to operate as either shops or offices were completed; other structures stand uncompleted while foundations of possible buildings abandoned by the contractor are weakening by day.
Vendors have since refused to enter and operate from the market demanding that it be fully completed as quickly as possible accusing the contractor of misusing funds.
A vendor who did not want to be named said he suspects that the funds were misused or misallocated as the works on the ground do not correspond with the total money spent on the project.
Efforts to speak to Nangaunozge Building Contractors owner Henry Shaba proved futile as his phone went unanswered after several attempts
But Nkasala defended the contractor saying he could not complete the works as the money was not enough.
He said government has since advertised for new bidders to finish up the remaining works in the second phase of the project.
Booker Matemvu head of knowledge management and communications at National Local Government Finance Committee acknowledged that usually such projects last for six months but due to some changes to the contract the project delayed.
Asked why government decided to change the contractor, Matemvu explained that Nangaunozge was hired for the first phase only and it is imperative that the bidding be open to all for the second phase.
He explained: “Once the contractor is identified and the contract signed the construction works will resume and the market will be completed in due time.”
However both Nkasala and Matemvu could not give a deadline set for the project.
But in a separate interview, chairperson for Lunzu Market Clemence Maovololo pleaded for the quick completion of the project saying it is becoming difficult for them to manage their goods.
“We run our businesses outside and our goods are not safe. We struggle in moving goods to and from home each and every day and they get damaged along the way. We pray that the market be completed as quickly as possible,” said Maovololo.