Vice-President Saulos Chilima has called on State institutions to ensure quality public infrastructure to minimise maintenance costs.
Speaking when he visited works on Msulira M18 Road in Nkhotakota yesterday, Chilima emphasised the need to promote quality infrastructure such as roads, houses and other public structures.
He said government spends millions of taxpayers’ money in maintenance of public infrastructure, saying the funds can be invested in other developments if structures are built with durable materials that can withstand natural calamities.
Said Chilima: “We need to have good roads so that we shouldn’t go back to it few years later to maintain it. At the end, government will be blamed and the contractor will be called all sorts of names.”
On his part, Roads Authority (RA) chief executive officer Engineer Emmanuel Matapa said they have put in place stringent quality control measures to ensure that contractors deliver durable work.
He said the authority is committed to promoting the things the Vice-President advanced.
On March 2019, then Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango launched rehabilitation works on the road which were planned to last for 12 months, but work has moved at a snail’s pace.
In an interview, Minister of Transport Principal Secretary Patrick Zimpita said the project was behind schedule due to lack of funds.
“We have delayed to complete the project on time due to lack of funds. Government has been struggling to pay the contractor,” he said.
Zimpita said the 83 kilometres stretch that splits Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve was pegged at K4 billion but government released about K800 million to the contractor.
On the significance of the project, Zimpita said the ministry realises the importance of opening up areas to new economic opportunities; hence, it is improving the road network.
Meanwhile, the contractor, Shire Contraction Company, has said the works will be completed in December 2021.
Chilima, who is also Minister responsible for Economic Planning and Development and Public Reforms, visited the road project as part of his inspection tour of public projects aimed at appreciating the state of implementation and progress made against planned completion.
Posting on his social media page, the Veep acknowledged that the Msulira-Nkhotakota Road has missed its deadline by 16 months.
He said: “All the challenges that have led to the delay will be ironed out so that the contractor must proceed with the work
“We have to match what is on paper and on the ground. We must also get to the discipline of implementing projects timely.”
According to Chilima, there are over 300 public projects under implementation; hence, the need to have first-hand information of what is obtaining on the ground to inform priority areas for planning and funding in the next national budget.
Besides the road projects, the Vice-President also visited JCM Solar Power plant in Salima which will add 60 Megawatts to the national grid and is expected to be completed by April 2021