Minister of Transport and Public Works Ralph Jooma has underscored the need to start prioritising local contractors to empower them.
The minister said this on Sunday at Tsangano in Ntcheu after touring the 132-kilometre Ntcheu-Tsangano-Neno-Mwanza Road which government is upgrading from earth to bitumen standard.
Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Engineering Battalion, a local contractor, is constructing the first 21 kilometres at K9.6 billion.
In an interview after touring the road, Jooma said time has come for the country to start prioritising local contractors whohave the capacity to perform the task and have the technical know-how.
“I am impressed with the construction of the road. Despite few challenges such as few equipment and slow cash-flows, which were there during the start of the project, the contractor has managed to do a good job. This is encouraging,” he said.
Jooma said empowering local contractors means that money paid will be circulating within the country, adding that this offers many economic opportunities to Malawians.
“As government, we will ensure that we continue giving out contracts to this MDF contractor which has impressed us together with other competent Malawian companies to utilise their equipment and personnel,” he said.
Commenting on the benefits of the road, Jooma said it will open up farming business, particularly for Irish potato farmers.
In his remarks, Roads Authority chief executive officer Emmanuel Matapa expressed satisfaction that the road is progressing well.
He pledged his commitment to ensuring that all the challenges affecting the smooth progress of the road are addressed.
MDF was given 18 months from April 13 to October 3 2019 to complete the stretch.
Currently, progress is at 38 percent and time lapse is at 83 percent.
It is expected that by October this year, the contractor will have done 75 percent of the work.