By Iommie Chiwalo
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has come flat on its watchdog role by demanding audits of questionable water projects as well as disclosure of contractual agreements.
This comes as the organisation believes situations Malawi is experiencing due natural disasters, lately Cyclone Ana, provide an opportunity for the country to raise the standards of public infrastructure, and fight the nauseating deep-rooted corruption entrenched in the construction industry.
In a statement made available to this publication, CDEDI is, challenging Malawians to be keeping a keen eye on public infrastructure projects being implemented in their areas as one way of guaranteeing value for the money spent on the projects, such as roads, railways and bridges.
“CDEDI has noted with great concern that the heavy rains the country is experiencing have exposed poor workmanship, negligence and outright disregard of contractual details in the implementation of some projects,” reads the statement signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa.
Adding that it does not need emphasis that a good road network is a catalyst for development.
He said Malawi has needlessly lost lives due to road accidents because of poor conditions of the roads and washed-away bridges saying although the impact of the cyclones and tropical storms has been devastating, Malawians are their own witnesses that, to a large extent, the losses of lives, and government finances are due to poor workmanship.
“It is against this background that CDEDI is challenging the Roads Authority (RA) to audit projects under its jurisdiction against details of signed contracts for the same, and give feedback on the same,” he said.
For interest of transparency and accountability, CDEDI has also demanded the disclosure of contractual agreements for Jenda-Edingeni, Karonga -Songwe, Mzimba-Mzarangwe, Kapiri-Mkanda, Ntchisi -Malomo, Kenyatta Drive & Sharrar Street not to mention of Ntcheu-Tsangano, Nsanje -Marka and Nsanama -Nayuchi roads.
CDEDI has since given the NRA seven (7) days to provide the requested information.
The NGO further wishes to implore that going forward, Malawi must deploy due diligence in tender processes for all projects.
“One such project is the 72-kilometre Nsanje-Marka railway line whose tender process is underway. CDEDI calls upon the Ministry of Transport and Public Works to provide adequate soul searching and due diligence to ensure that the company it hires for the project is of impeccable expertise and good repute,” Namiwa calls.
Above all, CDEDI also calls for audits by relevant authorities on projects in the water and sanitation sector, which is another sector that needs constant check to ensure that Malawians have access to potable water.
“Projects for which we demand audits include the Karonga Water Supply and Nkhata Bay Water Supply Project. CDEDI hereby requests the Northern Region Water Board to institute audits in regard to these projects as soon as possible.
Both RA and NRWB are yet to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile Malawians of goodwill are planning to demonstrate against corruption and impunity on the protests slated for March 2, 2022.