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Government messes up K16 billion bus terminus contract

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Government has tangled itself in a K16 billion international bus terminus contract mess where it has re-awarded a contract it initially awarded to another firm.

Now the victim contractor, a local consortium known as Moni International Coach Terminus and Trade Centre, has demanded an explanation from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Khato Civils Pvt Ltd for the same project.

The project aims to construct a bus terminal and truck dry port that provides inter-country linkages with neighbouring countries.

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It also has a component of a service centre that provides for the socio-economic needs of local and international transporters and travelers.

Moni International Coach Terminus and Trade Centre director David Bonongwe took serious exception to the government’s move arguing that the project is a patented invention with registration number MW/P/2008/000001. As such, awarding it to another firm would be a violation of that patent provision.

At the recent Malawi Investment Forum, Khati Civils Pvt Ltd director Simbi Phiri signed an MOU with the government to carry out three major projects, namely, Lake Malawi Water Project, the international bus terminal and the toll gates project.

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Spokesperson for Khati Civils Pvt Ltd, Taonga Botolo, at that time confirmed signing the MOU with the government through Lilongwe City Council to have the international coach terminus in the country.

But Bonongwe said in an interview on Tuesday that there was no agreement between his firm and the city council for the latter to give the concept to other investors.

“We are seeking an explanation from Ministry of Local Government to tell us the relationship between the investors that signed the MOU and the government.

“This is our concept and we have been working on it for the past 10 years and spent over K50 million. What is remaining is for the Ministry of Lands to give us land for the project. We did all the paper work,” said Bonongwe.

According to the designs, the project will stand on 8.5 hectares of land and will have facilities that will include bus shelter terminus, circulation area, service bay, banking hall, fast foods stalls and restaurants, hotel and office park, shops/plaza, camp site, security area and waste management.

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said her ministry is not aware of any MOU it signed with Moni International Coach Terminus and Trade Centre.

“All agreements of that nature are made at council level. Currently, such agreements were made during the investment forum as you have rightly put it,” said Mughogho.

But according to Bonongwe, the government is aware of the project and promised to see it to its conclusion.

On March 9 2015, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development wrote Bonongwe a letter with reference PP/HQ/23/8B promising to give land for the project.

“I would like to kindly inform you that the Ministry is considering your application. Currently, we are in the process of identifying suitable land to allocate the proposed development,” wrote a F.C.J Tukula.

On June 17 2015 there was a meeting at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development at Capital Hill between officials from Moni and the ministry to hear updates on the development.

The ministry was represented by Director of Policy and Planning Francis Zhuwao who chaired the meeting; Chief Economist Walusango Kayira and Chief Rural Development Officer Francis Sakala. Bonongwe and board member Leonard Nkosi represented Moni at the meeting.

“The Chairperson of the meeting, Mr Zhuwao, summarised the deliberations of the meeting by saying that we should move forward as follows: To work together with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; to encourage and support Moni International Coach Terminus and Trade Centre by providing personnel from his department and to immediately meet the Minister of Lands on the issue of land for the infrastructure development based on the concept,” read the minutes.

Lilongwe City Council also wrote the investor on September 28 2015 commending them for the project and advising them to approach Lands and Valuation department for a suitable land for the project.

“Lilongwe City Council would wish to work with you and Bus Operators Association to ensure maximum use of your facilities. We recommend that you discuss further technical details on the proposals of a modern International Bus Terminal with Council’s Director of Engineering Services,” reads a letter from Director of Engineering Services J.L Tsogolani.

Budget documents show that the government is saddled with billions of kwacha in compensation claims due to mishandled contracts.

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