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Saulos Chilima blasts engineers in Nsanje

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Vice-President Saulos Chilima on Tuesday took to task Consulting Engineers for the Shire River Basin Management Programme, BRL Engineers, for constructing a substandard K298 million dyke which, he said, would not protect the people against flooding

Chilima, who visited the 823-metre dyke constructed along the Nkhande River in the area of Senior Chief Tengani in Nsanje District, expressed dissatisfaction with the way the dyke had been constructed, saying it would not protect the communities.

The aim of the government in putting up the dyke along Nkhande River was to protect people and their property in the event that the river floods.

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Chilima was visibly charged, demanding answers from BRL officials on why they spent government money on something which was not sustainable.

In an interview, the Vice- President said he was worried with the work as it did not reflect well on the government’s efforts in developing the nation.

“I must say the truth that the dyke is substandard. I did not expect to see work like what I have seen today. Even though I am not an engineer, I am justified to call the construction work substandard,” Chilima said.

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The Vice-President even told BRL Engineers that construction works should be reworked to reflect the real purpose of the dike, which is to protect communities from floods.

“Why are we wasting time and money? It is even more wasteful calling me from Blantyre to come here to see this. You know, if the dyke is washed way, we can build another one but lives which will be lost cannot be recovered,” Chilima said.

“The President talks about patriotism almost on daily basis but I cannot see any of it here. I am not an engineer but for K298 million we can argue and argue but I am not convinced,” he said.

The Consulting Engineer, Anati Jere, conceded that the dyke was not strong enough to withstand flooding but said that was what their clients asked them to do.

“I agree with what the Vice President said. We should have recommended a concrete dyke but this is what our clients, Shire River Basin Management Programme, asked us [to do],” Jere said.

Chilima then demanded that the dyke should be reconstructed to protect families in the Lower Shire.

“Therefore, we need to sit down and discuss so that the works should be reworked. This is a death trap to people because if the dike is washed away, then it will negatively affect the communities,” Chilima said.

Nsanje Central Constituency Member of Parliament, who is also Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Francis Kasaila— in whose constituency the dyke has been constructed— also expressed displeasure at the substandard works done.

Kasaila said the work is as good as having done nothing on the ground as it will not protect lives and property of the communities.

“We are not happy with the way the dyke has been constructed. I and Senior Chief Tengani have been seeking an audience with the BRL engineers but they have been shunning us. We wanted to give them advice which could have made the work to be perfected,” Kasaila said.

One of the BRL leading engineers, Anati Jere, agreed to sentiments made by the Vice President over the substandard work.

“As the Vice President is putting it on the construction works, I agree with him. The work which has been done is worth the money spent or planned. However, as the Vice President has put it, we will have to sit down and see,” Jere said.

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