Water project debate rages on


Debate on the Salima-Lilongwe water project continues with South Africa-based renowned engineer, Tiwone Mdina, asking Malawians to hold their patience and let experts and professionals in the engineering sector comment on the project, estimated at $435 million.
But Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) Head of Engineering, Edwin Khundi, holds a different opinion, saying any sector is entitled to comment because the project is an issue of national interest.
Khato Civils was awarded the contract to undertake the project, but many groups, including donors and civil society, have blamed the government on the contract award and viability of the project.
Mdina, who is Managing Director of Mdina Engineering said such projects have been carried out elsewhere.
“I have read different stories with different opinions on the project. In my view, those commenting on the project should be professionals and experts; otherwise, if everybody is coming up with their own comments, then this will end up confusing and misleading others,” he said.
Mdina said only those with track records of the piping system should be taken seriously.
“I don’t have data of the project but I know that designing of such projects is done through data.
All I can say is, piping is one of the most complicated projects and yet it looks very simple.
“There’s a lot that we look for in such projects [including], distance, water yield and water quality among others. These have to be checked and this means only those that are qualified should be able to make such comments, based on their findings,” Mdina said.
He added that such noise normally affects good projects.
On the other hand, Khundi said the project is a national issue; hence, all sectors are free to comment.
He said much as engineers have a bigger role to play in the project, all stakeholders should be involved.
“Every stakeholder should be able to contribute to the debate because the issue is of national interest. Environmentalists, engineers, lawyers, economists and scientists should be able to contribute their opinion because the project may have effects at different stages,” Khundi said.
In its recent survey, Malawi Institute of Engineers observed that the project is viable and that all measures are being taken into account to minimise negative environmental impacts.

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