By Erik Chiputula:
Disagreements between the Electrical Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) and contractors over a K20 million compensation has stalled Phase 1 of the Mtandire – Airwing road construction.
According to the contractors, FNC and Meshoz, ESCOM is reluctant to remove powerline poles along the road, until the compensation is paid.
This was revealed during an interface meeting summoned by Lilongwe City West Legislator George Zulu at the site.
The contractors representatives refused to grant interviews.
Senior Chief Chigoneka denounced the stand-off saying with the rain season approaching, the road will become impassable.
However, Zulu downplayed the compensation issue as the main delaying factor saying the road has very few affected ESCOM power lines.
In an interview, Lilongwe City Council Director of Engineering Services, Julius Tsogolani promised to intervene on the matter.
“We will intervene to make sure that the road is completed before the rain season,” said Tsogolani
Escom Public Relations Manager Kitty Chingota said justified the compensation claim saying the relocation of power lines is outside their plan.
“We need to provide accurate information to the public, what is happening is that the contractor came to Escom and was given the quotation to pay, the contractor is yet to pay for relocation of that service so we are waiting for the contractor to pay.
“This is the project that ESCOM has to undertake which is outside Escom’s core, we didn’t plan for this relocation, we didn’t budget for this relocation. It is the relocation that is required by the contractor and not Escom as such the contractor is required to pay for Escom to conduct that exercise.
“What we are saying is that for us to remove the line, we need first to construct another line first before we connect power to those pole so for us to do that we need them to pay for that relocation. It is our duty to relocate the line but it is their duty to pay for that relocation,” she said
The K3.1 billion six kilometer road is funded by the ministry of finance and Roads fund Administration (RFM), K1.6 billion was already disbursed at the beginning of the project.
Five months down the line, the project is still at early stage.