ACB arrests transport ministry official for awarding contract to Mota Engil


The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has arrested Chief Procurement Officer in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Michael Mbewe, for fraudulently awarding tender to Mota Engil on Marka-Bangula railway project.

In 2021, the Ministry of Transport and Public Works published a notification for intention to award Mota Engil a K48 billion contract for the reconstruction of the 72-kilometre Marka-Bangula railway line.

Later, after a Chinese company complained against the awarding of the contract to Mota Engil, the anti-graft body stopped the Ministry from proceeding with awarding the contract to Mota over corruption allegations.

Acting on a complaint it received in September 2021 on declaring Mota Engil as a successful bidder for a tender to design, rehabilitate and upgrade the Marka-Bangula Railway, ACB has arrested Mbewe.

According to ACB’s Wednesday statement, signed by its principal publicist Egrita Ndala, their investigations have established that Mbewe published notification of intention to award a contract to Mota Engil on the Marka-Bangula railway project.

However, it is indicated that the awarding of the contract to Mota Engil was questionable as it was done before approval from Government Contracts Unit.

It is further reported that the ‘No Objection’ was issued without the knowledge of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).

“Investigations revealed that Michael Mbewe a Chief Procurement officer in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works in Lilongwe published a Notification of Intention to Award a Contract to MOTA- Engil before getting approval from Government Contracts Unit.

“On 19 April 2023, the ACB arrested Michael Mbewe. He is reasonably suspected to have committed the offence of misuse of public office contrary to section 258 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and neglect of official duty contrary to section 121 of the Penal Code,” reads part of the statement.

The bureau says it will take Mbewe to court after recording a caution statement from him.

Meanwhile, the project was awarded to China Railway 20th Group which won the tender after ACB ordered a re–tender following the said corruption allegations.

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