Six months after Roads Authority (RA), Roads Funds Administration (RFA) and contractor Mota Engil committed to complete the 73.5-kilometre (km) Livingstonia-Njakwa Road, the deadline has been missed for the second time.
The road was supposed to be completed in October this year, a commitment that was stamped when Vice President Saulos Chilima inspected the road in April this year.
Chilima said money for the completion of the road was available. At that time, over 60 percent of road works had been done on the K31.3 billion road.
The project commenced on November 1 2016 and was expected to be completed on May 1 2020 but missed the target, costing the government K2.1 billion more due to delayed payments. Goal posts were then shifted to October 2021.
Out of the K31.3 billion certified amount for the project, the contractor was paid K28.4 billion and, at that time in April, the outstanding amount to be paid to the contractor was K2.2 billion.
When contacted Tuesday, Mota Engil spokesperson Thomas Chafunya could not comment on the cause of the delays but highlighted that the company had made tremendous progress.
“We are pushing and we have made huge progress from the previous time of inspection and we are sure we should be able to complete the road within a specific period of time. As for the delays that we have encountered, those could be commented on by Roads Authority,” he said.
While admitting that the road had delayed, RA Board Chairperson Joe Ching’ani said they were remaining with about 12 km of the road to be completed.
“As we stand now, we are remaining with 12 kilometres to be butumenised. All things being equal, by the end of this month, we should be remaining with barely four kilometres because of some technicalities that the contractor has gone through but we are sure that, before Christmas, we should be through,” he said.
RFA Director of Finance Alex Makhwatha said they were just waiting for certificates from RA to pay the contractor.
“What I know is that the government has given us money. We are just waiting for certificates from Roads Authority for us to pay the contractor,” he said.
Apparently, 15 traditional leaders from Rumphi District have written Deputy Minister of Transport Nancy Chaola Mdooka for a meeting to update them on the road progress.