Progress on the 62-kilometre tarmac road in Mzimba has stalled with the contractor only managing, in three years, to surface an 8-kilometre stretch, build a bridge foundation and clear 14 kilometres on the Mzimba-Eswazini-Mzarangwe Road.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Chimango Mughogho Gondwe on Wednesday visited the section of the road, which forms part of the Mzimba-Ekwendeni Road.
Said Mughogho: “I am so glad that today I managed to come and see the Mzimba-Mzarangwe Road, which started sometime back and I am so happy that at least eight and a half kilometres have been fully surfaced and that much work has been done on the Mzimba Bridge and we are talking now about the foundation basically being laid on the bridge.”
The Roads Authority (RA) contracted Fargo Limited to construct the road from May 1 2009 to December 13 this year at a cost of K7 438 404 381. 65 a figure revised from an initial K7 126 974 102. 35.
RA spokesperson Portia Kajanga confirmed the development.
“The contractor has so far limited his operations with a stretch of 14 kilometres with works on different stages of construction from bush clearing up to surfacing. A total of 8 kilometres has been surfaced up to the final layer of slurry, while earth works up to base have been completed for 10 kilometres. Piling on Mzimba Bridge is completed. Erection of caps and stems for piers and abutments is in progress,” said Kajanga.
She attributed the slow progress of works to delays in payments to the contractor and fuel shortages.
Briefing the deputy minister, the contractor’s project manager Suhail Sharma said government owes him K888 million and that the fuel and forex shortages they faced have contributed to the delay.
The road from Mzimba is expected to branch off to MI at Mtangatanga while it continues to Ekwendeni.
President Joyce Banda recently opened part of completed works which started from the Ekwendeni side.