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House backs water project

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The Natural Resources Committee of Parliament Wednesday warned the Executive against backtracking on the multimillion billion Kwacha Salima- Lilongwe Water Project.

Chairperson for the Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee of the House, Welani Chilenga, was speaking in Parliament when he presented a report on the status of the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project.

Chilenga said his committee found out that government is likely to dump the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project in favour of the Diamphwe Multipurpose Dam in Lilongwe under the influence of the World Bank.

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According to Chilenga, the committee established that Khatho Civils had reduced the cost of the project from $405 million to $315 million.

“It will be very unfortunate for Malawi to cancel the Salima- Lilongwe Water Project because it would push an extra burden on Malawians who are already choked by an extremely huge public debt.

“If the government really cancels the project, it would mean Malawians paying billions of Kwacha for a dormant project,” Chilenga says.

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The World Bank, through Country Manager for Malawi, Eastern and Southern Africa Region, Hugh Riddell, indicated in a leaked letter that the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project was not the most cost-effective way to increase water supply to Lilongwe at this time.

Currently, the World Bank was upgrading a $100 million World Bank-financed Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project.

Finance Minister Felix Mlusu was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

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