Malawi’s Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has withheld K1 billion it pledged for rehabilitation of roads in Mzuzu City over capacity concerns.
The ministry has since asked Mzuzu City Council (MCC) to boost its engineering department for government to entrust it with bigger projects.
However, MCC acting chief executive officer Victor Masina said in an interview on Wednesday it is not fair to say the council lacks capacity to handle projects of bigger magnitude.
He said the council is responsible for feeder roads, but can handle projects of any size because there is room to hire a consultant.
Masina said if the issue is about substandard roads, then contractors were to blame as the council hires them to do the work.
During prebudget consultation meetings last year, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said he was not impressed with the way MCC handled construction of tarmac roads the last time government allocated it a big sum of money.
However, Gondwe promised to allocate at least K1billion for rehabilitation and construction of all-weather roads in the city and challenged the council to prove him wrong by coming up with good roads
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya maintained that despite government being cash-strapped to allocate funds, it does not have confidence in MCC’s capacity to manage bigger projects.
He said the ministry feels the council’s engineering department should be enhanced.
Msowoya said the department lacks capacity to design, manage and supervise big road projects. He said with such shortfalls the council cannot be entrusted with such projects.
However, he said there is a commitment to allocate funds in the coming budget and the council will have to work with Roads Authority to manage the project. He could not reveal how much will be allocated.