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Water project ready to roll

The Salima-Lilongwe Water Project

Sosten Gwengwe

The government has identified Kwei Energy Corporation of Australia as the finance company that will provide the $313 million loan to implementers of the Salima- Lilongwe Water Project, raising hope that it would commence within weeks.

The project will tap water from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe City.

After completion in about three years, Salima-Lilongwe Water Supply Company—a newly established company— would be selling the water to Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and Central Region Water Board.

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Sosten Gwengwe told Parliament yesterday that the project was a joint venture of Khatho Civils Private Limited and South Zambezi.

According to Gwengwe, Cabinet approved the arrangement of the funding and, as required by the Public Finance Management Act, it was proper to report to Parliament so that lawmakers could be aware of the loan guarantees the government had given.

“Talking to the contractor, this was the final approval process that was expected. Having gone through all processes, our expectation, as government, is that the project should roll out as soon as possible because the finances are now intact,” he said.

A number of legislators stood in support of the project which, they said, would end water woes in the capital.

Rumphi East Member of Parliament Kamlepo Kalua hailed the government for coming in the open, indicating that the project would benefit the whole country since Lilongwe is the capital of the country.

“It [Lilongwe] does not belong to either an individual or to Blantyre or Mzuzu. It is our capital and it is proper for us to support this water project,” he said.

Gwengwe submitted a report of the Public Finance Management Act, 2003, on issuance of sovereign guarantees to various banks for state-owned enterprises to access loans for different purposes.

The report, which captures a period starting from 2017 to date, includes government guarantees to Northern Region Water Board to get a loan of K12.6 from NBS Bank for consolidating its loans, among others, as well as guarantees to Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation to borrow money for maize purchase.

Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson on financial matters Joseph Mwanamvekha indicated that his calculations of the guarantees add up to K450 billion and that, in the event the institutions fail to pay back, the government would shoulder the burden.

The Salima-Lilongwe Water Project was initiated by LWB in 2016 but Gwengwe said the project would be managed by the Salima-Lilongwe Water Supply Company.

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