A blame-game has erupted between the Ministry of Labour, Sports, Youth and Manpower Development and the Mzuzu City Council (MCC) over the delays in the construction of a youth centre in the city.
While the minister responsible, Henry Mussa, accused MCC of lacking seriousness on the project, the council has hit back, blaming the ministry for not releasing funds for the construction work.
Construction of the centre was supposed to start in June 2015.
The facility is expected to have a football ground, courts, dressing rooms, hall and offices.
Speaking on Monday during a ground-breaking ceremony, the second to take place since the project was hatched, Mussa said the government allocated funds to the project, but the council was dilly-dallying on construction.
In September 2015, the then minister of sports, Grace Chiumia, held the first ground-breaking ceremony, but construction did not start.
Mussa insisted that the second ground-breaking ceremony he presided over “is the serious one.”
“Just look at my face, don’t I look serious? I could not have bothered myself travelling from Lilongwe all the away to Mzuzu to preside over this event,” he said.
“The first ground-breaking ceremony took place yes, but I stepped into this place today and it is looking the same way it was last year. I asked myself, ‘are these people [the council] really serious as I am?,” Mussa wondered.
He ordered that the land be cleared and levelled by the end of January 2017, adding that any delay will result in government diverting to other projects, the funds being provided by the Chinese Government.
In the 2016/17 national budget, the government allocated K50 million to the project meant for the levelling of the ground, water supply and a construction of the youth centre’s access road.
“Government will only be responsible for the clearing the land [with the K50 million]. After that, the Chinese government will now come in to start the foundation of the multi-purpose youth centre,” Mussa added.
In his response, MCC Deputy Mayor, Frazer Chunga, said the ministry was playing an ‘indecent game with money meant for the project’.
He said the ministry has been sitting on the money meant for the project.
“It is the ministry responsible for the project which is not serious about this. At first, we just heard that K200 million was allocated to this project last year, but the council does not know where the money went,” Chunga said.
“In fact, we [the council] have never seen a single tambala of the said amount, how can we start the project without money?”
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