By Wezzie Gausi
The Ministry of Lands and Urban Development has come out to admit that it is facing a myriad of challenges in the construction of 10,000 houses for security agencies in the country.
The K20 billion government-funded project was launched in 2020 and aims at constructing houses for Malawi Defence Force (MDF), Malawi Police Service (MPS), Immigration Department and Malawi Prison Service (MPS) personnel within a five year period.
Speaking to Malawi News, the Ministry’s spokesperson, Enock Chingoni, disclosed that there is inadequate funds for payment of compensation to those people whose settlements have been affected by the project.
He went on toad that the ministry is also faced with non-availability of land for construction of more houses and land encroachment on some construction sites.
“There is a series of poor performance by some contractors. However, the ministry has been engaging contractors to ensure that contractors improve performance.
“The ministry will further intensify monitoring and supervision exercises. We have been working closely with beneficiary institutions to ensure availability of land to avoid further delays in project implementation,” Chingoni said.
On July 16 this year, President Lazarus Chakwera commissioned 15 houses at Malamya Police Mobile Service Camp at Malindi in Mangochi.
Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (CSAT) Executive Director Willy Kambwandira said he finds it difficult to understand the continued delay to finish construction of the houses, considering that revenue generating institutions such as the Malawi Revenue Authority are always on record to have met their targets in revenue collection, part of which goes towards development initiatives.
“Where does the taxpayer money go? We can only speculate that some of these projects are only meant to siphon public funds at the expense of suffering Malawians. Otherwise the government should come out in the open in a transparent manner and update Malawians on the status of this project.
“We all know that Parliament approved K 20 billion for this project, where is the money?” Kambwandira said.
In May this year, Principal Secretary for Lands, Reyneck Matemba, had said the Ministry planned to construct 1000 houses in the first phase but only managed to construct 231 houses, which means they have failed to construct 769 houses under the phase.
He said issues of finance were the major reason behind the delays.
The project will run for five years, from 2020 to 2025, and it is in three phases. The first phase consists of 1000 houses, the second phase has 4,300 houses and the third and last phase has 4,700 houses.
Despite the fact that only a few houses have been constructed, people have expressed satisfaction with the quality of some of the housing units, save for those whose contractors have failed to adhere to agreed standards.