The contractor of the 72-kilometre Marka-Bangula railway project China Railway 20 (CR20), says the scope of work has increased requiring additional resources, hence the proposed addition of 28 billion kwacha.
This is according CR20 Technical and Business Development Manager Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba who made the revelations on Saturday, September 23, 2023 when the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Works toured the project.
Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba indicated that on top of the works that his company was assigned, there are additional scope of works which the Ministry of of Transport and Public Works wants it to as well carry that will require additional money.
He made mention of the ministry’s proposed increase in length of loop lines from 641m to 750m to match with those in Mozambique from Beira port to Villa Nova through Mutarara including the occurrence of Ana, Gombe and Freddy Cyclones.
The Technical and Business Development Manager Manager further reported that such natural disasters facilitated several changes in initial designs and he gave an example of one bridge which was initially designed at 70 metres but it is now 220 metres wide due to the floods.
Despite vehemently refuting reports that the contractor is the one proposing the additional K28 billion, Engineer Mumba was so quick to justify the need for the provision of the proposed additional funds saying it is for the betterment of the country’s development.
“People deliberately misrepresent issues regarding this railway line. Its an fortunate because this is a game changer to the economy of Malawi. By shifting road transportation to rail transportation, the country will be saving not less than 41 million USD per year.
“The contractor has not proposed K28 billion, that is misrepresentation. The ministry upon seeing a number of issues based on what was given to the contractor at a time of tender, they have proposed some additional works which are part of the K28 billion, its not coming from the contractor.
“That side of Mozambique there are five loop lines here the plans are to have two, but because we want to mirror what is in Mozambique, the ministry proposes five loop lines as well here. The second component has come because of natural disasters,” explained Engineer Mumba.
Government through Principal Secretary responsible for administration in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works Madalo Nyambose, said it will review the proposed K28bn additional cost.
“We have not made a decision yet, that still remains a proposal. This project was awarded under what we call Engineering and Procurement Contract (EPC) where the contractor is required to do the designs and the constructions. He needed to undertake several studies, but the time we put the bid in the papers, cyclones Idai, Gombe, Ana and Freddy had not taken place.
“So, he is making a proposal at time when he has finalised the investigations and of course there have been experiences of cyclones and according to him that is what he believes is the best design. This has been submitted to the ministry and the ministry is looking at it, until we agree on the scope, we would not know whether indeed the additional cost is K28 billion or not,” said Nyambose.
She further expressed satisfaction with the 22 percent physical work which the contractor has so far carried out.
Speaking after touring the project, Chairperson for the parliamentary Committee on Transport, Enoch Phale who was accompanied by several committee members, said they are impressed with the progress of the project.
He said the country deserves a project that will stand the test of time and therefore, if there is a need for some changes, the committee is very much willing to support it.
“Most of the explanations seem to be very reasonable because it is emanating from what the immediate past three cyclones has caused here. The initial design did not consider construction of rivers but now there are a lot of river crossings. Another thing that has convinced us is that we need to mirror what is in Mozambique,” said Phala.
The railway line will connect Malawi to the Beira Port in Mozambique a development which is expected to ease importation costs of goods to Malawi and authorities say all things being equal, the project will be completed by December 2024.