Lazarus Chakwera against investment hiccups
President Lazarus Chakwera has directed the Ministry of Transport to iron out what he calls long, slow and cumbersome processes investors are subjected to when they want to invest in the transport sector in Malawi.
Chakwera made the directive during the official launch of the Shire North Railway Bridge in Balaka District Tuesday.
He said Malawi has so much good will around the world but, often, government institutions sit on those extended helping hands until investors tire of waiting and take their investment to other countries.
The President added that in many cases, an investor will be sent to the Ministry of Finance for a letter of no-objection, then be sent to the Ministry of Justice to have the Memorandum of Understanding scrutinised, then be sent back to the Ministry of Transport to start again, and then be sent to the Public Private Partnership Commission for assistance, and then be made to wait for months without any response or decision and without even the courtesy of communication.
“I want this nonsense to stop because it is scaring away investors and developers. I can assure you that, for every company that secures a contract to build a road or rail in Malawi, there are 20 others that give up on helping us because our process for contracting out infrastructural projects are too unclear, too long, too slow and too cumbersome,” Chakwera said.
Chakwera has since given Transport Deputy Minister Nancy Mdooko a timeframe to give him a proposal on possible solutions before the next meeting of Parliament.
Mdooko said her ministry would act on the President’s order.
“It is indeed a process and long procedure because for one to be awarded a contract, they need to go to ministries such as those of Transport, Justice and Office of the President and Cabinet. As such, we will have to rescind the circular which was there,” she said.
The Shire North Railway Bridge, which is 165 metres long, is located along the railway line between Limbe and Nkaya in Balaka.
It has been constructed to the tune of $13 million.
Gustavo Stain, Director of Nacala Logistics, a consortium of railway companies, said construction of the bridge means a lot to their operations.
“This bridge will give us the capacity to bring heavier trains and it means that we can increase cargo by 32 percent on our trains. As such, it is very important,” he said.
Nacala Logistics currently has a capacity to ship 700, 000 tonnes of cargo and now working towards making it one million tonnes annually.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.