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Delays in construction industry irk Saulos Chilima

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The Vice President, Saulos Chilima, has said he believes there are some quarters in the construction industry that are so corrupt and do whatever it takes to delay government projects so that they benefit through inflated costs.

Chilima has warned that such people might be doing this for self-enrichment but they should always remember that this country is greater than individuals.

He said project delays and corruption are tainting the image of the industry and there is need to do something about it before the image is completely damaged.

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He described the delays in the commencement of some government projects such as the Cancer Centre and Phalombe District Hospital as unacceptable.

Speaking during the opening of a three-day International Construction Industry Conference in Lilongwe yesterday, Chilima said he knows that there is indiscipline, corruption, bribery and a deep-seated culture of allowances that is choking operations in the industry.

“There have been media revelations that projects which do not have provision for allowances suffer a lot because officials shun such projects. This is uncalled for and morally wrong, to say the least. This has to stop. You are holding your country at a ransom.

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“Come to think about delayed projects like the Cancer Centre Project, Phalombe, Mchinji, Rumphi and Chikwawa Teachers’ Colleges. Aren’t we delaying our own development and punishing the future generation for the sins they haven’t committed?” Chilima said.

He said the stakeholders must think about the abandoned or delayed health centres and classroom blocks.

“What and where is our conscience when we steal funds or frustrate projects that are purely meant to uplift the life of the poor citizen in the village or indeed across the country?” he queried.

Chilima said as Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) champion, he will work hand in hand with National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works to name and shame those who will be found on the wrong side of the law.

National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) Chief Executive Officer, Linda Phiri, said the Council is working hard to stop corruption in the industry and some contractors who were found corrupt were removed from the list of recognised contractors.

On the theme of the conference, Chilima said it is very important that the country devises mechanisms to help mitigate the impact of disasters and ensure that infrastructure is resilient through adoption of innovative and socially friendly construction methods.

“We cannot afford to do shortcuts or carry on with the business as usual approach in the sector because we all know very well the importance of the construction industry to the economy of any country,” Chilima said.

Phiri said the construction industry feels compelled to exert more efforts to create an industry that is responsive to disaster management issues.

The conference is being held under the theme, ‘Construction Industry Relevance; a Shift Towards Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure.’

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