Broken systems derail development projects – Capital Radio Malawi
24 July, 2024

Part of Mtowe Community Technical College in Nsanje

Poor coordination, broken systems and negligence within the government agencies are hindering public infrastructure development in the country.

This has led to poor quality of structures and unnecessary delays on completion of projects such as schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and other public facilities.

A recent tour to some community technical colleges revealed clear signs of negligence and poor coordination among public institutions, thereby frustrating the government agenda of providing technical and entrepreneurship skills to young people in order to address the challenge of unemployment. 

For instance, construction of Mtowe Community Technical College in Nsanje district was supposed to be completed by the year 2020 but it is far from completion with visible cracks and poor workmanship.

It is evident that with Nsanje being a disaster-prone area, the structure located 10 kilometres away from Marka border, cannot withstand flooding due to shallow foundation works as well as poor drainage system.  

It has been established that the contractor, Mitondo Construction Company, run out of funds and awaits the government consideration for additional funds, to the initial K700 million.

The visit also revealed poor coordination between the central government and the district council as works were not properly inspected by relevant authorities before making payments.

NyaLonje (Second from right) during a visit at one of the projects in Lower Shire

“This is a sad story. There is a very substandard work done here, the whole construction is below standards and the works are not complete. You have to ask questions, what happened and where did the money go?” This is how Labour Minister Agnes NyaLonje reacted, after inspecting the school structure.  

“Who allowed this to happen? How did we get here? These questions have to be asked and to think a team (from Capital Hill) came here and then go back to approve payments for a contractor doing this work, what were they seeing?” NyaLonje queried in disbelief.

The Minister who was accompanied by officials from the Technical Entrepreneurial Vocational Authority (TEVETA) promised to follow up the matter at Capital Hill to ensure people to Mtowe are served better by having well-built structure and that the government see value for money spent.

The Minister then proceeded to inspect Ngabu Community Technical College in Chikwawa district, whose works ended three years ago, but the facility is not yet operational because the relevant authorities are yet to hire teaching personnel while on the other hand, ESCOM is yet to connect electricity to the structure, even after making all connection payments.

The visit also exposed gaps in respect to labour laws in the government system as security guards entrusted to protect the multimillion kwacha structure and equipment, worked three years without receiving a salary.

These revelations puzzled NyaLonje who demanded an explanation from district council officials, while reminding the officers the mandate of decentralization on such district level projects.

“Madam minister, I wish to bring to your attention that at this place we have three security guards. One works during day time and two others at night but for three years now, they are not receiving their monthly salary. These men are living a miserable life,” a visibly concerned Traditional Authority Ngabu interjected the ministerial briefing during the visit. 

But a council official quickly chipped in to claiming that: “I wish to correct that the security guards have now started receiving their salary and we have written the human resource department to calculate and pay out their arrears for three years.”

NyaLonje did not hide her frustrations, attributing the developments to broken systems within the government departments and stressed the need for implementation of public reforms. 

“There is a huge number of issues that speak to the typical broken systems such as failure for the central part of government to work with local government as well as people, in short, decentralization not working. Doing things remotely has not helped us,” she analysed.

She added that: “There is lack of supervision of projects, lack of knowing quality contractors that can be found locally and lack of involvement to generate ownership of local communities and district commissioners.”

Having acknowledged disjointed synergies among government agencies, she ordered public officers that in line with the government policy on decentralization, everything that has to be decentralised on the local level, must be decentralised as soon as possible. 

She further admitted that there is need for her ministry to work closely with the ministry of local government to resolve laxity and some technical capacity gaps as well as strengthening the human resource departments.

President Lazarus Chakwera also expressed displeasure over the slow pace in completion of government projects, when he toured some road construction projects in the capital city, Lilongwe last week.

“Public institutions that have the mandate to oversee government projects should bear in mind that they have the responsibility to serve Malawians better by ensuring that projects are completed within the stipulated period. What I am hearing is shameful, you need to be patriotic. I will not tolerate laziness and negligence on duty because we need to develop this country,” Chakwera emphasised.

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