Malawi Government optimistic on Chauncy Maples discussion outcome


Malawi Government is praying for successful outcome of talks between the UK Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust and Mota Engil whose disagreements led to the abandonment of the Mobile Clinic Project on Lake Malawi initiated by the government in 2009.

The project aims at promoting health among people living around the shores of the lake in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

In February this year, government said there was a deadlock on the project and its future was in limbo following disagreements between Mota Engil and the Trust.


The two institutions were failing to honour their agreement to form a joint venture company to be responsible for the renovations of the vessel.

Now, the Trust is in talks with Mota Engil to find solutions to the technical issues and increased costs of the project after work on the hull stopped in 2013 after noting that its technical problems would result in higher costs than the original estimates.

“Discussions are ongoing and right now as a Ministry, we are only hoping for a positive outcome within the earliest time possible for the benefit of the people,” said Ministry of Health spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, on Thursday.


“It pains the Government to see that the project has met serious challenges beyond its control that have delayed its commencement,” added Chikumbe.

The Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust chairman, Colin Hayton, said discussions between his Trust and Mota Engil are under way to find solutions to the technical problems and the high costs that have surpassed the original estimates. The trust raised Two Million Pounds for the project while the Malawi Government contributed K100 million in 2009 and 2010 financial years.

“Work on the hull stopped in late 2013 when it became clear that the technical problems with the hull would result in higher costs than the original estimates and beyond the expected resources of the Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust,” said Hayton.

He added: “Since then discussions have been taking place between the Trust and Mota Engil to see if a solution can be found to the technical issues and increased costs.”

Hayton said Mota Engil became involved when the vessel was transferred from government ownership to Mota Engil in 2010. He said the renovation contract is between the Trust and the Malawi Shipping Company.

Asked how the Trust would ensure the accountability for the funds raised for the project, Hayton said: “The objective of the Trust is the relief of sickness and the preservation and promotion of health among people living around the shores of Lake Malawi in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The Trust is required under English Charity Law to ensure that its funds are used for that purpose.”

Asked if government had abandoned the project, Chikumbe said: “We would not quickly say Government has abandoned the project as the main joint venture is between the English charity, the Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust, and Mota Engil, who are the current owners of the vessel.”

Also asked how government would ensure that funds it allocated to the project are not abused, Chikumbe said: “According to the Public Finance Management Act, all budgeted funds that have not been used lapses after the 30th June of each Fiscal Year. As such not all these funds were actually used. Only a small fraction of it was used for coordination of meetings for the project.”

Mota Engil Public Relations and Media Consultant Manager, Thomas Chafunya, said the Ministry of Health comment on the project would be enough.

In February this year, Chief of Health Services, Charles Mwansambo, said Mota Engil and the Trust had agreed to form a joint venture company to be responsible for the renovations of the vessel as a charitable company along with government.

“Unfortunately that did not materialise,” he said.

“Two representatives of the Chauncey Maples Malawi Trust from the UK were in the country end November 2014, but Mota Engil representatives were not available for discussions,” said Mwansambo.

Mota Engil was expected to rehabilitate and promote the ship in the area of tourism while the trust and ministry to promote the provision of health care services.

There was an agreement that Motal Engil would invest an equal amount of resources that the Trust and Government had invested in the project.

The Chauncey Maples Trust was established in the UK in 2009 to raise Two Million Pounds to renovate the ship which was built by Ally and McClellan in Glasgow. By 2011, it had raised One Million Pounds.

The project was designed to take 18 months but since 2009 nothing tangible has been done to the vessel.

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