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MPs exonerate Northern Region Water Board over Mzimba Project

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The Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances and Public Service Reforms has reaffirmed its earlier stand that the Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) did not flout procedures in the award of contract for the K14 billion Mzimba Integrated Urban Water Supply (IUWS) and Sanitation Project.

The members shared the sentiments after meeting management of the board and subsequently touring the project sites at Machecheta and Mzimba Boma on Saturday.

Chairperson of the Committee, Harry Mkandawire, said after several explanations and proof from the board on the arithmetic error of the bidding price, it is not in the interest of his committee to deny people of Mzimba and surrounding areas an opportunity to have safe and portable drinking water.

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He said being a project of such magnitude, the committee will continue to monitor the progress to ensure that implementation is free of major flaws and meets the people’s expectations.

“There has been a lot of negative talk about the project. As a committee, we took keen interest and followed up with the board. Reaching this far, we are convinced that all is well and we want the project to proceed as planned,” Mkandawire said.

He also assured the board and the media that accompanied them on the tour that his committee will impress on other skeptical legislators about the status of the project.

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Mkandawire then called on losing bidders in the project to desist from causing tension and raising unnecessary alarm over the matter.

Recent revelations indicate that Mohan Khrishnan, Director of Plem Construction who bid for the project, accused Chief Executive Officer of the NRWB, Titus Mtegha, of receiving bribes from winners Sawa Group.

“In bidding, there is always a winner and a loser. It is only right for those who lose to accept the results and move on. It is unfortunate to think of fighting the project because that would disadvantage the local beneficiaries,” Mkandawire said.

Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament instituted an independent probe into the matter and is expected to present its results to the august House on Wednesday this week.

Speaking after the tour, NRWB Board Chairperson, Reverend Howard Matiya Nkhoma, said he is excited that influential segments of society have begun to appreciate the truth in the alleged saga.

“When one has no knowledge about something they can assume, guess and say anything sometimes maliciously. But after this visit by the MPs, I am happy that we have honourable people who apart from ourselves, will go out to speak and advocate the truth about this project,” Nkhoma said.

The project is expected to benefit about 75,000 households in the district including the yet-to-be-constructed Mombera University.

Financed by the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Malawi Government, the project also has a sanitation and hygiene component.

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