Govt rebuffs China Railways over K28 billion claim

By Linda Kwanjana

Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara over the weekend put his foot down not to pay an additional K28 billion which the contractor working on the Nsanje-Marka Railway Line was demanding.

The decision was against what , China Railway 20th Bureau Group wrote to the ministry asking for additional funds for the project, initially pegged at K68.2 billion.

The contractor argued that the ministry had come up with extra works for the project, hence the increase in cost.

Hon Jacob Hara

But in an interview on Times Exclusive, which aired on Times Television on Saturday, Hara said government has rejected the proposal “for now”.

“We indeed received the proposal and we acknowledged that the contractor was justified to ask for the increase. However when I received the proposal, I considered a number of things including procurement law, which demands that we go through PPDA [Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority] which might take some time. So we have decided not to give them [the money],” Hara said.

He added that the contractor has been informed to do what they can manage with the money that was allocated for the project.

Recently Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Works members visited the project site, the contractor alleged that the ministry proposed several additional things which led to the increase in total cost.

The contractor said upon seeing what was in Mozambique, the ministry proposed the installation of five loop lines. The initial plan was to have two loop lines but the ministry proposed [that we] mirror what is in Mozambique because it will help in saving on operation costs.

The contractor further indicated that the increase was necessitated by floods that hit the Southern Region district, which resulted in adjustments in the design.

The Malawi Government is funding construction of the 72-kilometre railway line from Bangula to Marka.