Contractor of the Karonga Water Supply Project won’t be able to finish and handover the project to government within the agreeable period of time, we can reveal.
The contractor, China State Construction Engineering Coop Ltd (CSCEC), is pushing blame on other stakeholders.
But there are revelations that the company delayed in mobilizing human and physical resources such as machinery and has moved on snail’s pace without valid reasons.
The project involves rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing water supply systems and extending the piping to surrounding areas.
It commenced in October 2020 and was earmarked to be completed May 2022.
However, three months to the deadline, it is obvious that the project won’t be completed on time because China State Construction Engineering Coop Ltd due to the company’s insufficient commitment to the project.
The contractor recently indicated that they are going to finish the $15.6 million project beyond September this year, without giving a definite deadline.
This publication’s investigations also reveal that the delays at the project are also a result of poor working conditions which in turn demoralize workers.
In an interview an employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said the bosses at China State Construction Engineering Coop Ltd mistreat workers in many ways.
“One person does a three-man work with same small pay and the company does not respect employee’s rights. They are corrupt and racist. It’s hell working at this place,” he said.
Besides offering free food and accommodation, the company has no proper medical scheme to help its Malawian workers when they fall sick or get injured during working hours.
Residents at Karonga are now worried that in the absence of the definite deadline, their access to clean water may as well remain a pipe dream.
This comes as a blow to Karonga Town residents who have for many decades faced challenges in accessing clean and potable water mainly due to lack of a modern water system. The current water system only caters for almost half of the 97,000 residents at the town.
It is against this background that the commissioning of Karonga Water Supply Project was touted as the right intervention for it was going to expand reach in terms of access to potable and clean water.
“The contractor should say exactly when the project will be finished. Shifting goalposts now does not give confidence at all. We have yearned for clean water for too long as such these kinds of delays are just annoying,” said Melenia Msowoya, who has been residing at Karonga town for close to thirty years now.
During a visit to the project last year in April, Vice President Saulos Chilima told China State Construction Engineering Coop Ltd to stick to the May 2022 deadline to which the company agreed and promised.
Currently, Karonga Town has around 97,000 residents.
But its current water supply system provides water to only 45,000 residents.
It is expected that upon completion the project will have a service scope of 184,000 which is the population forecast of Karonga Town for 2035.