Mzuni library completion delays to cost government K3 billion
Construction of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) library and auditorium complex has missed its February 8, 2023 completion target, a delay that would cost the government an additional K3 billion.
The project assigned to China State Construction Engineering Corporation was initially pegged at K7 billion.
Disclosing this on Friday, Vice Chancellor for the second oldest public university, John Kalenga Saka said the complex is expected to be completed in the next 18 months.
The project, currently at 40 percent, was expected to be complete in 24 months beginning January 2020 but has missed the deadline due to a number of factors including a stop order by the National Construction Industry council (NCIC), according to Saka.
NCIC had suspended construction of the complex due to what the council said was non – compliance with the 30 percent local sub-contractors requirement by the contractor.
“And because of the delays over the past two years exacerbated by reasons beyond our control, indeed the contractor and us have discussed the extension and this will be finalized in the shortest period of time,” Saka said.
On the increase of the project cost, he said they already presented the issue to the Secretary to the Treasury.
“So there will be adjustments. Our initial estimate is bordering around K10 billion because you will note that last year, we had the 25 percent devaluation of the Kwacha and therefore the cost of materials has gone up significantly,” he said.
Willy Kambwandira of Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency said this is not an isolated case, describing it as a drawback towards public funds management.
“What is clear is that the project was either rushed without due consideration to the technical consideration, or government has no money to pay the contractor.
“This is poor management of the tax payers’ money, and this is not isolated case. We cannot allow this to continue. The increase by K 3 billion is a lot,” he said.
It is expected that the library, once completed, would accommodate about 5,000 students and staff at a go.
The construction of the three-storey library follows the razing down of the previous one by fire in 2015.