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Lack of community participation in the implementation of projects within Blantyre City has been described as one of the leading factors to the substandard work implemented in the city.

During the participatory meeting of urban citizens, local leaders and the Blantyre City Council (BCC) on Friday evening, the city dwellers accused the council of not involving them in the implementation of the projects which they described as the reason contactors are doing substandard work.

The participants cited substandard structures like roads and lack of drainage systems in the Blantyre City as some of the challenges arising because there is no proper consultation regarding the contractors that are entrusted to carry out such developments.

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They said most developments are imposed on them.

Thomas Mnenula from Chilomoni Township described the meeting as significant, saying it gave him a platform to question some of the unfinished projects in his area.

“It is essential to have such meetings so that we can question the council about their plans for our city. For instance, there are no enough toilets in our city and the challenge forces us to ask for toilets in the hotels and banks which are very strict to grant access. This is not supposed to be the case in the city where business is carried out every day,” said Mnenula.

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Corruption and Human Rights Watch Executive Director Eliya Kamphinda Banda said there is a need for the council to involve the communities in each and every step of the projects.

Banda said communities are in a better position to understand contactors than office bearers, hence the need to involve them.

“Just like how they involve the people from the grass roots of the project, budgeting for example, they should work with them throughout the project. These people know which contactor is competent, hence they ought to be involved even during the implementation,” he said.

BCC Public Relations Officer Anthony Kasunda denied the accusation that the council does not allow full participation of city dwellers in carrying out developments.

“That is not true because we are more than a million people in Blantyre, so you mean the council can consult each and every one? It would not be possible. People have councillors whom they can discuss with and the council will implement the developments according to what they need,” Kasunda said.

Story Workshop, organisers of the meeting, is running a project titled Empowered Urban Citizenry and Strengthened Governance Structures for Responsive Service Delivery.

The aim is to influence urban governance structures for inclusive, accountable, transparent and responsive service delivery.

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