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The dyke scandal

has stirred controversy — Nsanje dyke

World Bank has disowned implementation of a substandard dyke which has been constructed in Nsanje, meant to protect about 1200 households in the area of Senior Chief Tengani from floods.

Commissioner for Disasters and Secretary to the Office of the Vice President Clement Chinthu Phiri had claimed the Department of Disaster Management

Affairs (DodMA) only reported the challenges people were facing in the area to the World Bank for financial support.

Chinthu Phiri said the project was implemented by the bank itself, including procurement of the contactor, which the bank denies.

“As DoDMA, we just reported to the World Bank challenges people were facing but everything was done by the bank. The contractors and everything were procured by the World Bank. We were just following up as people who approached the bank but we were not directly involved in the actual implementation of the project,” he said.

However, World Bank Communications Manager Zeria Banda contradicted Chinthu Phiri, pointing out that the bank was only a financier and not an implementer of the project. As such, she said, the bank did not identify any the contractor who constructed the substandard dyke.

“I should start by clarifying that the World Bank is a financier not an implementer.

The implementer of this project is the borrower, the government (through the Minister of Finance). We do not identify contractors nor issue contracts,” she said.

Banda however said as Malawi’s development partner, the bank appreciates Vice President Saulos Chilima’s close engagement in improving the management of disaster risks in Malawi.

She said the bank understands that the dyke is a subject of further discussion by the implementer and the bank will wait for the outcome of those discussions before commenting further.

Chilima, in his capacity as Minister of Disaster Management Affairs, last Tuesday condemned the 823-metre earth dyke which was funded by the World Bank to the tune of over K290 million, saying it cannot withstand pressure from serious floods.

He specifically blasted consulting engineer Anati Jere of BRL Consulting for recommending to the construction firm, Mitondo Construction an earth dyke instead of a concrete one, saying it will be washed away anytime the area floods.

“We are not in the business of coming here every year to construct dykes. Why are we wasting time and money? It is even more wasteful calling me from Blantyre to come here to see this,” he said.

Chilima’s concerns were equally shared by Senior Chief Tengani, Chinthu Phiri and the area’s Member of Parliament Francis Kasaila. Kasaila accused the consulting engineer of not consulting the locals during the designing phase of the dyke.

Nsanje District Council Chairperson Mavuto Kamba said councillors were also bypassed in the project.

“Although the country embraced decentralisation, many development projects are centrally planned. In this case, the central government did not involve us in any way although we are closer to the project site than most of them who are in

Lilongwe,” he said.

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