A Malawian engineer has described the Lake Malawi water project as immoral and fraudulent saying its implementation will allow some individuals to rip off poor Malawians.
Government awarded the contract for the $500million project to Khato Civils, a decision which attracted criticism from various people in the country.
Now, the head of one of the country’s largest civil engineering contractors, Newton Kambala of Mkaka Construction has said the Lake Malawi project to tap water from Lake Malawi in Salima and supply it to the capital, Lilongwe is aimed at siphoning money for personal and political interests.
In an interview with Amabhugane, Mkaka wondered why government dumped the Diamphwe Dam scheme, which was more viable, for the Lake Malawi water project which is being implemented without an environmental impact assessment.
“Where on earth do you abandon a viable project for a fresh one? And where no environmental and social impact assessment has been conducted? Tell me, what’s this if not immorality of the highest order?” Kambala asked
The Diamphwe project was expected to have gravity-fed water from a dam on the Diamphwe River in the hills above Lilongwe at an estimated cost of US$290-million, while the water from Lake Malawi will have to be pumped uphill through a head of 600m to the capital city 125km away.
Government suspended work on the Diamphwe project last year, shortly before awarding the Lake Malawi contract to Khato Civils which is owned by South Africa based Malawian businessman Simbi Phiri.
However, presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani said the contract was awarded by Lilongwe Water Board, not a political party.
“[The president] has no influence whatsoever on matters such as awarding of business contracts,” he told amaBhungane.
Meanwhile, fresh revelations have emerged in connection to the bidding process for the water project.
According to amaBhungane, Khato Civils won the tender after beating six other bidders even though Khato’s bid was US$200-million higher than the second highest bid – a $300 million tender by Mota Engil.
Kambala wondered why a higher bid was approved and suggested that the $200 million will be siphoned by corrupt individuals.
“The motivation behind this project isn’t to improve water service delivery. This is a jackpot for some individuals to rip off the poor nation,” said Kambala.
Kambala also said Malawians should be worried about Phiri’s admission that he engaged with politicians. “Why must businesspeople directly support politicians, let alone political parties? Why must I go to State House to engage the president? What does this mean?”
When contacted by amaBhungane, Khato Civils spokesperson Taonga Botolo said the claims lack solid basis adding that the construction firm has no time for “any elements desperately attempting to pull us down.”
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has said it is reviewing a complaint on the award of a contract for the Lake Malawi water project and the analysis will determine whether to investigate the issue.