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Delayed M1 Road works irks minister

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By Sylvester Kumwenda:

Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara has expressed dismay over the delayed commencement of construction works on some parts of the M1 Road.

On Thursday, the minister inspected a construction camp at Mtiti in Dowa, where he lamented delayed works on the 102-kilometer-stretch from Kamuzu International Airport to Kasungu.

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The section is earmarked to take 30 months starting from June 2022 and is contracted to China Jiangxi International.

“I am not awed because we are lagging behind time.

It has now been months since we launched the project and, by now, the camp should have been ready and works on the ground in progress, but this is not the case.

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“I understand they faced some challenges in terms of writing environmental reports, but now a consultant has been engaged. This is something that should have been done a long time ago. We are not smiling at any contractor; they have to find means of catching up,” he said.

Hara, therefore, urged the contractor to desist from fraudulent activities when employing workers.

“We do not want to see any corrupt practices; anyone should have a chance to work here with regard to their qualifications and capabilities.

“The same way you procure labour or treat people is the same way they will treat you and the project. So, you better be good to them,” Hara advised.

In his remarks, District Commissioner (DC) for Dowa Alex Mdooko said the delays are affecting everyone from different fronts, especially with compensations already paid to people.

“When people get compensation, we expect them to move to pave the way for construction. But if nothing is happening, some relax and in the end, use the money meant for their relocations for other things.

“On the other hand, there are local artisans waiting for a chance of employment here and any delay is an injustice to them,” Mdooko said.

The DC also said as the rainy season approaches, some might think of planting crops in areas meant for rehabilitation works, which might end in controversies.

He, like the minister, urged the contractor to pull up their socks and let the works commence.

Speaking earlier during the inspection, Section 1 Resident Engineer Belay Molla acknowledged the challenges faced but said work is scheduled to commence in mid- November.—Mana

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