Over the years government might have embarked on an ambitious enterprise, to run concurrently at least 26 road constructions, but these and other projects risk further delays in the absence of funds.
The projects which are going at a slow pace are already putting a strain on the country’s coffers, a development a construction expert has questioned, saying government ought to embark on projects it can easily fund to avoid cost overruns.
The revised mid-term budget documents put the figure of road projects at 26 in the current budget, most of which are behind schedule.
An update report from the Roads Authority (RA) shows 23 road projects which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government has been implementing since 2014 and are at different stages of construction, with over half of them moving at a snail’s pace, generally for lack of funds.
Despite its struggle to finance on-going projects, government last year awarded six more road projects that would cost it K53 billion, with only one, the Blantyre Ring Road, being partly financed by Export-Import Bank of China.
The other newly-awarded, but locally-funded road projects, according to RA report, are Nsanje-Marka-Road, Chiringa-Muloza Road, Dwangwa–Nkhotakota, Msulira–Nkhotakota Road and Mzimba–Mzarangwe Road.
Government also initiated
construction of other infrastructure, which include office space, stadiums, universities and youth centres, some of which have been drawing money from the public purse, without noteworthy progress.
The new highlighted projects were projected to be completed in two years—starting from this year—something that seems unlikely as they are erratically funded.
In the 2018/19 revised National
development which had Parliament asking for investigations.and spent on soil testing—a
In the 2018/19 fiscal year, the project received further funding of K700 million, but as the current financial year winds up, there is nothing to show for at the proposed site of construction in Blantyre.
In response to our questionnaire, Ministry of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Patricia Liabuba said they are negotiating with the contractor to start work.
Apart from the Mzuzu Youth Centre, which has witnessed two groundbreaking ceremonies and funds spent without progress, Mombera University is another elephant project which was expected to begin some years ago. In the revised national budget, Mombera University was allocated K908 million, from an approved estimate of K2.5 billion in the current budget.
In terms of progress on Mombera University, the mid-term budget document says “access roads are completed and have procured a contractor of main buildings”.
Government has also embarked on construction of stadiums—targeting Blantyre, Thyolo, Ntcheu and Mzimba—on top of Mutharika’s campaign promise to build stadiums for Nyasa Big Bullets and BeForward Wanderers football clubs.
While the Blantyre National Stadium has received K70 million in the current financial year, there are no funds for the other promised stadiums.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is managing construction of stadiums in Thyolo, Ntcheu and Mzimba and its spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said the delays were as a result of procedural issues.
“Thyolo project is up-to-date. Contractors have been given what is required to start work. For Ntcheu, what is remaining is the director of buildings to give contractors schedules. Mzimba contractor was paid. Director of buildings is to provide the rest of the required needs,” said Mughogho.
Commenting on these projects, country manager for Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) Lyford Gideon expressed worry that delayed projects are likely to have cost overruns and urged government only to embark on projects which are within its financial muscle.
Responding to our questionnaire, Secretary to Treasury Cliff Chiunda said the highlighted projects are prioritised in the 2018/19 Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).
A newly released report by the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) entitled ‘Malawi indebtedness Study: Keeping an Eye on the National Domestic and Foreign Debt’ also faults government for delays in completing projects which are financed on loans.
Presenting a four-month provisional budget on Friday, Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha said the budget will only support ongoing projects; hence, new ones will be catered for in the full national budget to be presented in September this year