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Chitipa road to cost K1 billion

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By Samuel Kalimira & Patience Lunda:

Six years after its inauguration, Karonga-Chitipa Road is going to cost K1 billion more in rehabilitation works following the damage which the road has suffered in recent months.

The road, which Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) constructed, has cracks and potholes, raising fears that this might be one of the causes of road accidents.

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Roads Authority (RA) Public Relations Officer, Portia Kajanga, admitted that the contractor did shoddy work on the road, saying rehabilitation works would be completed in November.

“The maintenance works being done on the Karonga–Chitipa Road are estimated to cost K1 billion. The works are being funded by the same contractor, CRBC, who constructed the road in 2012.

“The road has always been reliable since its completion in 2012; no major maintenance has been done on the road until now. Once the current works are completed, Roads Authority will ensure that the road is properly maintained as is the case with other roads,” Kajanga said.

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When quizzed on the measures they have put in place to ensure that the contractor does not do substandard work again, Kajanga said RA has engaged a local consulting engineering company to supervise maintenance works.

However, National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) has said it is not responsible for ensuring quality of construction works.

NCIC Public Relations Officer, Lyford Gideon, said their role is to regulate construction companies and discipline them when they violate the code of conduct.

“A contractor may suggest the amount of money needed for the works but, sometimes, clients may insist on a lower cost [of a project]. This leads to substandard work.

“When we intervene in such issues, we realise that the contractor is not wrong but the client; hence substandard works for some constructions,” Gedion said.

He refused to comment on the state of Chitipa- Karonga Road, referring the reporter to RA.

One of the minibus drivers who plies his trade on the road, Jabulani Ndau, urged the government to rehabilitate the entire road.

“Let us accept that the road was done in a hurry and it is substandard. Let it be rehabilitated so that it meets the recommended standards. Otherwise, potholes are many and this makes motorists prone to accidents,” Ndau said.

The road, which is called Bingu Highway, has economic significance as it connects farmers of Chitipa District especially Misuku, which is the largest source of Mzuzu Coffee, which is exported to the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and South America.

The project started with funding from the Taiwanese government but it was later abandoned after the two governments severed ties.

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