The World Bank has suspended a K14 billion road project in Malawi’s Lower Shire over sex.
Construction of the 60-kilometre Thabwa-Chitseko-Seven Road in Chikwawa District has been suspended after female workers complained that they were being abused by their bosses from the government hired contractor China Railway No.5 Engineering Group Corporation.
“They go around touching local women’s breasts, private parts and buttocks as we work. When employing a local female worker, some demand sex. Even when they want to help you on a labour-related issue, they demand sex,” a female guard at the site told the Nation newspaper.
World Bank country manager Greg Toulmin told the newspaper that the bank visited the site where the issues of sexual abuse were uncovered.
He urged government to ensure that measures are in place to protect women working at the site before it is reopened.
“The World Bank is working to ensure that those who may have been harmed receive the support they need,” Toulmin said.
A China Railway Number 5 business development manager said the project was stopped due to safety issues after several accidents at the site. On accusations of sexual abuse, the official said there was no incident reported to the police.
Meanwhile, both the Chikwawa Police Station and the Roads Authority have launched investigations into the sexual abuse allegations.
According to the Roads Authority, over $13.8 million (about K10.3 billion) has been spent on the rehabilitation of the road to sub-base level.