Twenty-two years after the construction of the Phalombe Memorial Pillar, contractor Edward Makoto says he is still chasing for payment from government but his efforts have been put on ice.
Makoto, in April 1991, raised an invoice of K280 000 to the District Commissioner of Phalombe, which he says has now accumulated to about K2 million.
Makoto is still keeping keys to the gate of the pillar pending payment.
At least 500 people were reported dead due to the avalanche.
But government has dismissed his claim, saying the office of the District Commissioner of Phalombe was only a coordinating office when some concerned members of the community in Phalombe decided to honour the victims of the March 10 1991 severe rock avalanche.
Former Phalombe district commissioner Emmanuel Bambe in a letter to the secretary of Local Government said his office had no file for the contract; as such, it has been a challenge to resolve the issue.
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Maganizo Mazeze said the ministry is aware of the claim, but there are no records for the award of the contract.
“The ministry has no responsibility whatsoever. The government cannot effect payment in what it did not agree to do. There is no contract and the district commissioner’s office did not commit to any payment. It only coordinated the construction with the local community,” said Mazeze.
But Makoto, who claims government is aware about the issue and is in a good position to resolve the matter, on July 29 wrote the ministry that government approached him as the original contractor to carry out maintenance works at the pillar.
In April 2012, former president Bingu wa Mutharika led the nation in a memorial service. Makoto claims that he was duly paid for maintenance works.
In an interview last week, Makoto said his last resort is to take the matter to court to enforce payment.
“I have waited for this money for a very long time and I can’t wait to go to court now. Government
is playing games,” he said.