Commencement of construction of the 46-kilometre Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay Road has been deferred from May to August this year because a contractor is yet to be identified, Roads Authority (RA) has confirmed.
RA had earlier indicated that the contractor for the road would be on site come May 2015.
However, spot checks by The Nation established that people who were supposed to relocate to pave the way for the project were still living along the road and structures earmarked for demolition after compensation assessment were still in place.
RA public relations officer Portia Kajanga confirmed the change in the construction of the much-awaited road project.
She said before a contractor could be identified, more surveys had to be conducted to minimise potential risks during implementation of the project.
However, Kajanga said government was still within the procurement plan despite the change in months.
She said: “The project has a procurement plan, agreed between the Malawi Government and the African Development Bank [AfDB], which is being followed and we are within the procurement plan.
“Our earlier estimates were that the contractor was to be on the ground by end of May 2015. However, during design review stage, it was noted that there was need to carry out more surveys in order to minimise potential risks during project implementation.”
Kajanga said government is in the process of procuring a contractor as the consultant entrusted with design review and supervision of the civil works has finalised the designs.
The actual construction of the road is estimated to take 18 months, according to Kajanga.
Asked if the presence of the people will not affect construction of the road, Kajanga said the agreement is that the people should move out before works commence. However, she could not state where the people will be relocated.
“Our agreement with the people, which they also signed for, is that they relocate before civil works commence otherwise their structures will be demolished,” said Kajanga.