The National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) has stopped the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) from proceeding with the construction of a K1 billion (about $1.5million) five-kilometre road in Lilongwe’s up-market Area 43 because it is not registered to undertake civil construction works.
NCIC’s decision comes barely one week after Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi unveiled MDF as the contractor at the site.
NCIC chief executive officer Linda Phiri confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that her institution was investigating the justification for awarding the contract to MDF when it is not a registered civil contractor.
She said: “By stopping MDF, it is a normal procedure. MDF are not a contractor registered with NCIC. Section 20  which established NCIC states that no one should operate in the construction sector without being registered. It is not like we have any grudge against the Ministry of Lands or MDF.”
Phiri said NCIC was discussing with government to resolve the differences. With the public service festive holiday starting yesterday, she said, the discussions would resume next year.
She expressed optimism the issue would be addressed.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Muluzi confirmed the works were stopped last week following concerns that MDF did not have a licence to carry out road works.
He said: “The ministry has formally written NCIC asking for the understanding that MDF be allowed to resume works. It came as a surprise that they were stopped because all processes had been exhausted and I was assured works could begin.”
Muluzi said MDF was selected to encourage government ministries to work with them because they have qualified engineers and good equipment. He said MDF was also relatively cheaper than other civil contractors.
MDF spokesperson Captain Paul Chiphwanya said the ministry was better placed to sort out the problems as the client not MDF.
MDF was due to work with consultants Infracon Engineers and Roads Authority to construct the road in the new sectors Four and Five of the affluent residential area over the next six months.
Over the years, MDF has been involved in construction of Bailey bridges nationwide to facilitate movement of people and cargo after conventional bridges have been washed away. n