By Deogratias Mmana
Human remains have been discovered along the 6-lane Kenyatta road which is undergoing expansion.
This find will play a part in delaying the project, authorities say.
President Lazarus Chakwera launched the expansion project in August 2021. It was expected to be completed by February next year.
But the deadline is unlikely to be met.
First, there was need for Escom and Lilongwe Water Board to relocate their infrastructure.
Then came the fuel supply problem in the country, which has also hit construction works.
Now the human remains discovery.
Roads Authority spokesperson Portia Kajanga said in an interview with Times that human remains have been discovered at the new interchange under construction at Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout towards Lizulu market.
The remains will need to be relocated, she said.
“Towards the end of the month of September, the contractor found chance findings (discovery of human remains) on the right-hand side at Km 0+600 from KCH interchange as we go towards Lizulu market. An assessment has already been conducted by the Department of Museums,” she said.
The contractor is China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
“If all procedures get completed in the planned time, relocation of the human remains will be done by mid- November. As such, there has been no work on this section until all necessary processes are followed,” Kajanga said.
This becomes problem number four overshadowing progress of the works.
First environmental activists were up in arms following the felling of mibawa trees that lined the street.
And then Escom and LWB are yet to relocate their power lines and water respectively.
Kajanga admitted that the expansion works on the Kenyatta Street into 6-lanes have not been progressing as expected, worse so now that Malawi is facing erratic fuel supply.
On a normal day, she said, the contractor uses a minimum of 2,500 litres and a maximum of 5,000 litres.
“But this has not been possible in the past months,” she said adding, “Then there’s the relocation of services which are currently within the road reserve.”
She said Escom has cleared the whole section of one side of Kenyatta and is remaining with the other side as well as the whole of Sharrar Street on both sides.
On the other hand, she said, Lilongwe Water Board’s major relocations are still outstanding.
“Their contractor is procuring materials for the exercise. They anticipate to commence the works earliest by December 2022,” Kajanga said.
LWB spokesperson Chisomo Chibwana said the expectation is to conclude all pipe relocation works by January 2023.
But she disclosed that the board, through the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, engaged Treasury to consider financing the project deficit of K1.4 billion.
“Total cost for pipe relocation for both Kenyatta Drive and Mzimba Street is K5.9 billion. From this amount, Treasury released K3 billion, being government institutions’ water bill arrears owed to LWB. LWB allocated K1.5 billion from its own financed capex budget,” Chibwana said.
She also said some pipes have not yet arrived in the country from China.
Earlier this year, Escom indicated that it would need K2.5 billion to relocate its power lines.
In an interview, Escom Public Relations Manager Kitty Chingota said the company secured the funds for the relocation exercise but materials are yet to come into the country.
“Orders for the materials were sent to manufacturers. The materials are being manufactured and are expected to be delivered by end January 2023.
“In order not to delay the road project, Escom has temporarily relocated the lines and modified supply network using materials that were meant for maintenance and other projects.
“Note that procurement approvals took longer than anticipated. Escom is subjected to provisions of procurement Act and vetting processes take time. Construction works for the road can still proceed with these temporary measures,” Chingota said.
The expansion works include construction of additional bridge along Lingadzi River and partial clover leaf interchange to replace the roundabout at KCH Petroda filling station.