Who was telling Lies? Chakwera or the Ministry
BY PIJ INVESTIGATIONS
Jacob Hara, the Minister of Transport and Public Works as well as his deputy Nancy Chaola Mdooko could not tell PIJ why their ministry had to organise a cover-up contract signing ceremony between Malawi Government and China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation immediately after President Lazarus Chakwela told the nation and his Mozambican counterpart that the contract was already signed.
Hara said he was in the north and promised to establish why there has been such drama around the K68 billion contract to rehabilitate the 26 kilometer stretch Marka-Bangula Railway section.
Chaola Mdooko only indicated to have read the question sent through a messaging application but did not respond.
Present at the signing ceremony which was hidden from the media was the deputy minister as well as the Director of Railways – Geoffrey Magwede, Principal Secretary of Administration – Madalo Nyambose and Procurement Officer MacMillan Pitawo on the Chinese company’s side were three representatives.
In order to further hoodwink Chakwera, the contract date has been backdated.
Speaking during a press briefing at the statehouse in Lilongwe last night Chakwera said he was delighted that finally the contract for this project, which is way behind schedule, has been signed.
“I am happy that the contract with the contractor of the project has been signed, and now we can move towards speedy implementation of the project,” said Chakwera.
We could not establish why the President was presented with wrong information, but we are informed, that this pushed the Ministry to put pen to paper to avoid an embarrassment.
A senior official from the Ministry of Transport said: “There is a lot of politics surrounding this project. Some people are trying hard to put spanners because they are not happy that the project will go on”
“Actually a meeting has just been called this morning to have the contract signed after some members of the Press started making inquiries on why the Ministry misled the President,” said the official.
A copy of the President’s statement on his four-day trip to Mozambique prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not indicate that the contract was signed, but just mentioned this project as one of the issues discussed in Mozambique.
But the President’s speech which made minor changes to the statement on foreign affairs added that the contract was signed.
Malawi and Mozambique signed an agreement to rehabilitate the Sena railway line and set March 2022 as the deadline for completion of works.
Mozambique has completed its part, which is 46 kilometers. Construction in Malawi, where there is a long stretch of up to 72 kilometers, is yet to start.
The first part of the contract covers 26 kilometers from Marka to Nsanje boma and the second phase will go up to Bangula.
Procurement processes for this project started in October 2020 and the evaluation of bids was completed by December 2020 but since then the project has failed to take off.
According to a notification of intention to award the contract that was issued by the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, the contract is for the design, rehabilitation, and upgrading of the Marka to Bangula railway section.
The contract was initially awarded to Mota Engil but the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) September last year suspended the awarding of the deal following a complaint alleging irregularities and suspected corruption surrounding the procurement process.
Mota-Engil had emerged as the successful bidder with the lowest price (K48 244 861 524.98) against two others–China Railway (K59 906 673 465.11) and China Civil Engineering (K79 766 540 032.76).