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Mzuzu Youth Centre progress in spotlight

IN ITS INFANCY— Mzuzu Youth Centre

IDLE— Construction vehicles

Construction of the K20 billion Mzuzu Youth Centre has stopped prematurely, with the construction firm, Dec Construction Company, indicating that it is yet to be given structural designs and engineering drawings by the Department of Buildings.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports, which is the client, handed over the construction site to Dec Construction Company in August last year.

President Lazarus Chakwera then inspected progress of works in October 2022.

However, when we visited the site Wednesday, we found that the land was simply cleared.

In an interview, Dec Site Supervisor Wongani Phiri said they could have started concrete works for the first floor by December if there were no delays in giving them the required information.

“We were ready by December, when we would have started working on, say, the concrete and the like.

As we are talking now, we would have done the first floor slab but the challenge has been the [absence of] designs.

You see, with projects of this nature, you cannot be on your own. You need the consultant to provide you with the required information. Otherwise, if you are not provided with the right information, when the building collapses, you are in for it as a construction firm,” he said.

Phiri said, for the sake of progress, involving a private consultant would help speed up construction works.

Commenting on the issue of delay, James Gondwe, who is the Chairperson for District Youth Technical Group, said they observed that initial designs were not disability-friendly and that a football pitch was excluded.

Gondwe said, despite making a presentation on their observations to Ministry of Youth officials, they have not been forthcoming with feedback on the matter.

“We are calling upon the Department of Buildings to finalise work on drawings and submit the same to the contractor. We are also appealing to the Ministry of Youth to take the issue up because they are, actually, responsible for making sure that the project is completed in time,” he said.

However, newly appointed Youth and Sports Minister Uchizi Mkandawire said what he has on paper is that the project has not stalled, adding that he will be vising the project site soon.

“According to the information we have, there is nothing like the project stopping. This is news to me and I have to follow up [on the issue] to get to the bottom of the matter. But the information that I have on paper is that work is in progress.

“However, it is one thing to be told and yet another thing to verify the information,” Mkandawire said

The K20 billion centre, which will be constructed in phases, will, among other things, have a swimming pool, office complex, lodging facilities and conference rooms.

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