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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Electrification programme: Muluzi’s blunders cost Govt. over K124m
by Bright Sonani, 17 December 2005 - 01:51:20
Japan will not fund Phase V of the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep) unless government meets the cost of providing electricity to the sites that remained in Phase IV after donor funding was diverted to 15 other sites imposed by former President Bakili Muluzi, a minister disclosed on Wednesday.
Minister of Mines, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Henry Chimunthu Banda said in an interview the Japanese Government said Malawi will only qualify for funding for Phase V if government funds the remaining sites under Phase IV.
“Because of the additions, Japan said it will only fund sites that were in the original contract while the rest will be up to the Malawi government. Since money was not available, the work stopped in those sites. Now the condition is that we complete Phase IV first to start Phase V,” said Chimunthu Banda.
The Minister said government was forced to raise more than K124 million to complete Phase IV. He said government identified money to complete all the sites under Phase IV and has been remitting the funds to Escom in instalments of about K10 million every month and that it still has between K29 million and K33 million to pay.
“Escom now has to mobilise materials, but paying the contractor would be through by either end this month or next month,” said the Minister.
But Escom who are the contractor for the project, said K124 million is not enough to electrify all the sites which remained under Phase IV.
According to the agreement, Marep Phase V was supposed to start in May last year, but the project could not get off the ground after the Japanese Government discovered equipment meant for the designated sites had been diverted to other areas.
The imposed sites included Kapoloma, Nyambi, Mposa and Makungwa in Muluzi’s home district, Chapananga and Nkhate in Chikwawa, Likoma and Malowa in Salima.
All the sites imposed on the programme except Mposa were already electrified while work at Nkhate had just started when the project run out of funding.
Some of the sites that are yet to be electrified in Phase IV include Mbalachanda, Champhira and Kafukule in Mzimba, Misuku Hills (Chitipa), Chikwina (Nkhata Bay), Nambuma (Lilongwe), Chulu (Kasungu), Tsangano (Ntcheu), Mwansambo (Nkhotakota) and Khombedza (Salima).
Escom Marep Manager Helford Machewere said in an interview on Wednesday with adequate funding, Phase IV projects would be completed by June next year.
But he said K124 million government is talking about is the figure that was agreed upon in 2002 and might not be enough to complete the remaining sites because of the rising cost of sourcing materials.
“We will use whatever they have given us, but we will hold a meeting soon and see the way forward,” said Machewere.
He added: “With the little we have and what we have just received we are preparing tender documents for the sites that were about to be finalised. If we get additional funding then we will have to tender again or use the same suppliers for the remaining sites.”
Phase IV was funded at a cost of K680.2 million of which K188.2 million was from the Japanese Government under the debt relief aid grant while Malawi Government through a levy on petroleum products was expected to contribute K491.8 million.
Muluzi’s spokesperson Sam Mpasu is on record as having said there was nothing wrong with what the former president did since his job was to develop the country.

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