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Government to meet Khato over water project

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Werani Chilenga

By Wezzie Gausi

Government representatives are expected to meet Khato Civils, contractors hired to tap water from Lake Malawi in Salima to Lilongwe on behalf of Lilongwe Water Board (LWB).

The project, awarded to Khato about four years ago, has faced resistance from various stakeholders including the World Bank which advances that tapping water from Diamphwe River in Dedza is a better alternative for LWB.

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But, stressing government’s decision to go ahead with tapping water from Lake Malawi, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda said the meeting with the contractor will, among other things, discuss the project design and the type of materials to be used.

There were fears that the cost of the project, which had been slashed by about K65 billion, would rise again if government insisted on original designs.

Banda said: “The issue of financing will also be discussed but I cannot disclose when we are actually meeting the contractor. The public will be informed about the commencement of the project once everything is finalised.”

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When he presented a report on the status of the venture in Parliament earlier this year, chairperson of the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament, Werani Chilenga, warned the government against backtracking on the project.

Chilenga indicated that his committee had found out that the government was likely to dump the Salima—Lilongwe Water Project in favour of the Diamphwe Dam project.

“On the Salima project, the government has our full support,” Chilenga said that time.

Khato Civils Chief Executive Officer Mongezi Munyani said at this point, it is not necessary for the firm to comment on what government is doing or planning to do.

Initially estimated at $400 million, the water project will eventually cost $298 million after the contractor made adjustments based on some changes in designs and the type of material to be used.

In the project’s arrangement, the contractor is supposed to identify a funder with the government acting as a guarantor.

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