Huge cracks in the building housing the National Audit Office (NAO) have raised fear among staff working in the facility that the building is at risk of collapse.
Apparently, the building has been declared inhabitable by the Buildings Department in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works.
The building requires extensive structural, electrical and general maintenance to make it more comfortable for use, director of buildings in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Hastings Chiudzu, confirmed.
He said: “We are working with National Audit Office [NAO] to identify funds to carry out major rehabilitation of the building. Otherwise, ad hoc maintenance is done from time to time. In the long term, NAO is looking at options of constructing a purpose-built office for its use.”
The building houses at least 100 staff, according to NAO corporate communications officer Lawrence Chinkhunda.
Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) first vice-president engineer David Mzandu said in its current state, the building needs to be vacated.
“My opinion is that the building should be vacated. And then it is either they correct the challenges or demolish the house. The city council must have approved the designs and drawings of the building before it was constructed,” he said.
In an interview, Felix Hara, a structural engineer with Infratech Associates in Lilongwe, said engineers must assess the building and make necessary recommendations.
On the other hand, Lilongwe City Council (LCC) said in a written response that through its Department of Planning and Development, it is mandated to provide the necessary regulations and recommendations of any structural development from its commencement to completion and certifying the same fit for occupation.
LCC public relations officer Tamara Chafunya said, among others, the certificate of occupation certifies that the structure suits the building recommendations and building standards and requirements.
But Chafunya said in the case of the NAO office building, LCC is yet to get the report from MIE declaring the building not fit for occupation.
Nevertheless, she said the council’s team has been dispatched to the site for inspection and analysis before recommending the way forward.