A scam has been exposed where K5.2 billion was going to be syphoned out through Lilongwe Water Board and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation which was going to be shared by ‘greedy’ public officials including the all now powerful President Lazarus Chakwera’s son Nicky and his close confidante Vitumbiko Mumba.
We can reveal that the much hyped Kenyatta Road rehabilitation project has become a highway for authorities to siphon money out of the public coffers.
The scam has been exposed after a local governance organization, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), obtained contract documents that are carrying sharply contradicting figures on the costing of works to relocate water pipes, telecommunication cables and electricity poles and wires to pave way for the six-lane project in Lilongwe.
The documents show that while the Roads Authority pegged the total cost of relocating the materials at a combined K507 million, affected government agencies are putting the cost at a combined cost of over K10 billion.
The schemers have since moved swiftly to award a separate contract for the removals when the same works were already catered for in the contract which the government awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation at a bid price of K19 billion.
Even more revealing is the fact that the contract to relocate water pipelines has been awarded to the same contractor who was given the overall contract of constructing the six-lane road at a cost of K19 billion, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
This means that the Chinese company will be paid an extra K5.2 billion more on the K507 million which is contained in the main contract.
Lilongwe Water Board is seeking a No Objection from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) to award the contract to the Chinese contractor at a price of K5.2 billion, when the normal price in RA contract has with the firm was K507 million and was already factored in the construction project bid price of K19 billion.
But an engineer at the Ministry of Transport has spelled out what this is all about.
“It is a scam, if you want to know. The difference is going into the pockets of very close associates of the President and is being controlled by Nicky Chakwera and his close friend Vitumbiko Mumba, these are the two who decide who gets which construction contract. If you look at the bids from Lilongwe Water Board, this China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation was the fourth lowest bidder and yet Lilongwe Water Board ignored the lowest three and offered the contract to this Chinese firm, there is a lot of foul play here,” said the source.
Our scrutiny of the documents indeed revealed that the Chinese firm was the fourth lowest bidder after Victory Vision Construction which bid at K3,494,446.88, Projex Group which bid at K3,631,663, 726.70 and Malbro International Ltd which bid at K4, 862,395.23.
CDEDI has described this as a serious case of double dipping, where Malawians are being robbed of billions in broad-daylight.
We are in possession of the contract documents awarded to China Civil Engineering by the RA, where this evidence has been sourced from. This coincidence of giving another contract to the same contractor by the LWB, and seeking a “No Objection’ for the same, was so glaring; hence, the move by CDEDI to invoke the ATI law in order to expose the shameless attempt to plunder the public purse.
CDEDI has since written to the Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara to consider withdrawing the intention to award the contract and has also written to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate the matter.