Wednesday, February 28

Over K60 Million Shop Project Raises Eyebrows

Building standard not in tandem with cost–Residents

We follow procurement processes–Mwanza District Council

By Greenwell Kayuni–MWANZA

Voices of discontent have emerged on the construction of a shop building with five rooms by Mwanza District Council at a total cost of over K60 million which some residents view as being higher compared to its standard.

The initiative falls under the five-year-World Bank funded Governance to Enable Service Delivery-GESD Project which was launched in Malawi in 2020 with a total package of $100 million.

The suspicions on the shop project come just weeks after the Council was also subjected to widespread criticisms over the construction of a market shade valued at K36 million using funds from the same pool.

For instance, Thomas Kafuwe of Nchotseni Village, Traditional Authority Kanduku in the district, says he is not happy with the quality and standard of the building comparing to the total project cost.

Another concerned resident, Margret Khome from Kabango, Traditional Authority Ntchache is also suspicious and disatisfied with the project cost.

“When I see this, it reminds me of another questionable and failed project being implemented by the council at my home Kabango,” says another cobcr Margaret Homwe says making reference to the controversial market shade.

Once completed, the Council dreams of generating revenue from the facility as well as provide job opportunities to some community members.

The Radar has established that the project was designed to roll out on 17th January 2023 and to complete within 120 days. Information further shows that Fedelis Building Contractors of P.O Box 330, Zomba were awarded the contract number: MW-MDC-318973-CW-RFW.

Besides the five rooms under construction, the money also caters for a two-roomed-toilet behind the shop building. We could however not establish the specific value of the toilet.

Boxten Kudziwe, who chairs a network of Civil Society Organizations-CSO’s responsible for good governance, observes communication gaps between service providers (the council) and community members when such highly billed projects are being implemented.

” It was therefore important that people have to voice out where they see that something is wrong so that the service providers have to attend to their concerns,” argues Kudziwe.

However, Mwanza District Council spokesperson, Brian Wasili denies accusations that the council is erecting a substandard building. He further downplays any underhand dealings in the project in the wake of prevailing questions on the project cost.

“All bills and drawings can be verified at the council and the projects undergo routine supervision not just by the council but also from external monitors in compliance with required standards,” says Wasili.

He claims the projects are from their Annual Investment Plan approved by the full council with strict adherence to procurement processes.

Says Wasili: “All documents are intact and external contract management teams visit and inspect them. The civil society representatives are consulted and attend the meetings.”

Of course, Wasili agrees there could be communication channel gaps at community level; leading to the questions and suspicions. But he says this doesn’t mean most of their projects are questionable.

Chairperson of all CSO’s in Mwanza, Martin Kadaona agrees with Wasili on engagement gaps. But he sees lack of joint monitoring of the projects as the problem; claiming it is only the council doing this.

Earlier, Center for Social Accountability and Transparency-CSAT Executive Director Willy Kambwandira noted that there is deep rot in the country’s councils due to what he described as degenerated ethical behaviours among public officers.

“Partly, this is because errant public officers are only transferred from one council to another without being reprimanded. Sadly, it has dire consequences on the quality of service delivery in the councils,” he said.

GESD project seeks to strengthen core national and local government institutions to improve the efficiency, equity and accountability of public resources for devolved services.

TheRadar #TruthUncensored

The shop building that has raised questions and suspicions.

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