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ROADS AUTHORITY WARNED NOT TO HIRE INEXPERIENCED ENGINEER AS CEO

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Hiring of a new Chief Executive Officer at Roads Authority has been thrown into bad light because some of the candidates vying for the position are outright bad apples and puppets of certain construction companies in the industry.

A vacancy advertisement in the local papers this week indicates that the Authority is seeking services of a qualified accountant with strategic competencies and command within the industry to drive its agenda of constructing, maintaining and rehabilitating the country’s road network.

One candidate who has stirred the hornets’ nest is Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba whose links with some Chinese construction companies has become a matter of discomfort.

Though the applications are yet to be processed, Mumba is already knocking on people’s offices to buy his way into the Authority’s most top post.

There are strong reservations not only at the Roads Authority but across the construction industry for Mumba’s candidacy for the position due to matters of corporate governance and his level of competence.

His reputation has over the past months been dented by his direct involvement with China Railways 20 Bureau Group Corporation where he currently works as Director of Engineering and Business Development.

Only some few months ago Mumba authored a letter addressed to Ministry of Transport and Public Works forcing it to expedite retendering of the Marka-Bangula Railway Project after the Anti Corruption Bureau had stopped the first contract award.

In the letter, dated December 17 2021, he also accused the ministry for what he termed as delays in awarding tenders for several routine maintenance road projects, Malawi Education Sector Improvement Proiect (MESIP) and Equity with quality and Learning at Secondary School (EQUALS).

This sort of conduct by the aspiring CEO has left a sour trail in the industry for it depicts a man who threw his professional reputation to the dogs and is licking the feet of construction companies for personal gain.

Stakeholders that we have spoken to within the industry have strongly questioned Mumba’s reputation and are therefore surprised that he wants to lead Roads Authority.

“The authority acts as a regulator and client for road projects. It therefore looks odd for a man who has been canvassing projects for a particular company to think that he can become chief executive. How is he going to handle issues of impartiality if, God forbid, he takes up the role?” queried one board member at Roads Authority who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Besides issues of impartiality, there are industry experts who feel that Mumba cannot execute his duties effectively as CEO due to his lack of experience and unimpressive credentials.

Despite holding a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Malawi since 2006, Mumba has neither worked any big construction company nor any big project.

The rest of his jurisdictions both at China Railway 20 and Surge Infrastructure Developments are only for public relations purposes and are only used at times he wants to be considered for favours as is the case now.

“He has never worked or supervised any big project I know of. He is not among top engineers on the land,” said another Blantyre-based veteran civil engineer.

Since its formation, the Roads Authority has been headed by some of the top engineers in Malawi. It is currently headed, in an Acting capacity, by Engineer Francis Dimu, following the firing of Emmanuel Matapa last year.

Before that, other prominent engineers that have headed the institution are Trevor Hiwa and Paul Kulemeka. All these engineers came to be CEOs at the Roads Authority with a proven track record both in government and private sector roles.

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