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Glaring shortfalls in construction sector

A latest report by the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (Cost) Malawi has exposed glaring shortfalls in publicly funded construction projects in the country.

The report seen by The Daily Times suggests that most projects face problems in terms of fairness, open competition and transparency.

The study examined 13 projects including the Liwonde – Mangochi (M3) Road, the Njakwa- Livingstonia (T305/ S103) Road, Nkhotakota – Dwangwa Road and Periodic Maintenance on Chingeni – Zalewa (M01) Road in Neno and Balaka Districts.

Other projects earmarked in the study were construction of the Liwonde Barrage, the Malawi Rural Electrification Project, construction of New MBS Laboratory and Office Complex, Phalombe Hospital, construction of Mbelwa District Community Stadium, construction of Mbelwa District Council Office Complex and Hest projects at the Polytechnic and Chancellor College.

“Although there were very few issues observed by this study arising during the tender management stage, it is worth noting that some projects had problems in terms of fairness, open competition, and transparency in the award in some of the projects,” reads part of the findings.

Findings of the study show that 3 out of the 4 projects by the Roads Authority were awarded to one locally registered international contractor.

According to the report, more research needs to be done as to why one contractor predominates in the road sector.

“If it is a question of lack of capacity on the part of local contractors, necessary interventions need to be put in place to equalise the playing field,” reads the report.

The Cost report says irregularities in the procurement of contracts is another area where expertise is required.

The study, however, finds that Proactive Disclosure is very low for the projects under this study varying from 11 percent to 8 percent.

Cost is a global initiative aimed at improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure procurement.

It works in conjunction with stakeholders such as government, industry and civil society to enhance the disclosure, validation and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects.

Malawi was one of the first countries in Africa selected to pilot an assurance and a baseline study in 2010 and since then, the secretariat has published numerous reports.

The construction sector is largely being driven by public spending.

Participation in the construction industry is dominated by foreign firms despite heavy presence of wholly owned local entities.

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