People of Neno district have agreed to stop a contractor who is constructing a road from Neno turn-off to Neno boma from proceeding with the road construction citing shoddy work being done on the road.
Speaking after conducting a series of meetings in all four traditional authorities in the district, the group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Neno said government should either stop the contractor from proceeding with the work or should engage another contractor with proper machinery for road construction.
The residents have warned that they will mobilize citizens in the district to chase away the contractor.
The citizens have termed the project as a big joke for thousands of citizens in the district who are paying tax to ensure there are passable roads in the district.
Speaking in an interview, one of the leaders of the group Leonard Mphiza lamented the substandard work on the road as fraud of the highest order saying the contractor does not even have his own equipment.
Mphiza said Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango has been urging citizens in the country to participate in road infrastructure development and that if they see substandard work, they have a right to stop the contractor from proceeding with the project.
“Therefore we are just following his advice to stop the contractor because with the shape the road is being constructed by the time the work will be getting at Neno boma there will be a lot of potholes to other side of the road which has already been completed,” said Mphiza.
Mphiza said people in the district are also worried that government is putting good resources to the construction of the road which is passing through Nsangano along Mozambique border to Mwanza saying it will not benefit Neno citizen but Mozambicans.
The residents blamed Neno North MP Emmanuel Lonzo for letting such shoddy work go on under his watch.
“We ask our MPs to see that the roads built are of the highest quality because this is our money which we have paid to the government as tax,” said Mphiza,
When contacted, Member of Parliament for the area Emmanuel Lonzo said that the work being done now is only basic road rehabilitation to make it passable before money is allocated for better road works in future.
Lonzo said the Neno road was among the three projects that were documented to receive funding from China – the others are Kam’mwamba coal-fired power plant and the renovation of Chileka and Kamuzu international airports – but for the sake of priorities government opted for Kam’mwamba power plant and the Neno road will start after the completion of the power plant.
According to Lonzo, the current work on the road is just temporally to facilitate mobility and that the actual road will be constructed by Chinese Haba Construction Company, the company that constructed Karonga-Chitipa road.
Lonzo also dismissed reports that the other road being constructed by Malawi Defence Force from Nsangano turn off will bypass Neno along Mozambique border to Mwanza.
“Any government cannot think about foreign citizens and forget its own citizens. What is happening is that the construction from both side, the one from turn off and the other from Nsangano turn off will merge at Neno Boma,” he said.
Both Lonzo and Malawi Roads Authority Spokesperson Portia Kajanga said they don’t know the current contractor that took over from Mkaka Construction Company, a company that did the first five kilometers of the road.
When a questionnaire was sent to Portia Kajanga a week ago to provide information on the name of the contractor and if the Authority is doing any supervisory work on the progress of the ongoing work, she asked for more time to consult and when contacted again on Monday 05 November, she was still not ready with the information.