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Cost of substandard work?

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Saulos Chilima

Slightly over two years after the 47-kilometre (km) Karonga- Songwe Road was launched, the $20.8 million project has failed to withstand the test of flooding water at Kyungu River 9km before the border.

Part of the road was cut on the edges of Kyungu Bridge, effectively halting movement from Songwe Border to Karonga and vice versa.

Police in the lakeshore district said two vehicles plunged into the river immediately after the incident with three people dying in the process.

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Karonga Police spokesperson Enock Liverson said the three are from the Immigration Department, the Malawi Revenue Authority and the Malawi Bureau of Standards.

“Investigations are in progress because the other vehicle is yet to be found,” Liverson said.

The incident prompted Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who was in Nkhata Bay, to rush to the scene on a fact-finding mission.

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“During the course of the work, there was a suggestion to reorient the river to its original course, which was not done. These are the prices we pay for not listening,” Chilima said.

The assignment was given to a Chinese construction company which has been reassigned to temporarily deal with the problem together with Malawi Defence Force’s Engineering Department.

Asked who will shoulder the cost of the temporary solution and the long-term river realigning plan, Chilima said the Roads Authority has been assigned to work on that.

He, however, categorically stated that no one will be shielded on the matter.

“On the question of contractors and quality work, we have said enough. We will no longer entertain shoddy work,” the vice-president said.

Paramount Chief Kyungu said it was sad that after he advised the contractor on how the river behaves, they ignored him.

“The road is a lifeline for Malawi and East Africa. Being cut off means there is no business for us,” Kyungu said.

Meanwhile, the Roads Authority has said the site would be fixed temporarily by the end of business today.

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