The all-powerful Nick Chakwera, son to President Lazarus Chakwera has forced the Ministry of Transport and Public Works to award the K68 billion contract to construct the Marka-Bangula railway project to a Chinese firm China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20) despite protests from communities where the project will be implemented.
We can reveal that Nsanje communities through their traditional leaders which included senior chiefs and Traditional Authorities (TAs) and Village Headmen and women wrote to Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara through the District Commissioner Dr. Medson Matchaya not to go ahead with the signing of the contract until their grievances were addressed.
They even challenged the minister to travel to Nsanje so that he should see the evidence of poor workmanship by the Chinese company did on the Nsanje-Marka road but the minister ignored them.
Insiders privy to the facts of the project revealed that it took one phone call from Nick Chakwera to minister Hara ‘to award the contract to CR20 with immediate effect’.
“That is why the minister hurriedly organized the signing ceremony despite that the chiefs and communities in Nsanje wrote directly to the minister protesting against the signing of the contract with CR20. The sad thing is that the minister even lied, despite being a Pastor, that he did not receive any letter from the chiefs in Nsanje yet he has the letter on his desk. I am saddened by this impunity,” said the source.
Interestingly, Hara told The Nation newspaper that he faulted the protesting communities in Nsanje for their failure to write the ministry on their concerns on the rail project.
He, however, admitted that CR 20 did a bad job on the Nsanje-Marka road project, the main cause for concern by the communities on CR20 workmanship saying ‘CR20 went ahead to do things because the consultants had said so even when they knew that it was a bad thing’.
Hara also insisted that government is giving CR20 the contract because their revised bid of K68.3 billion was the lowest out of all the revised bids.
But the revised bids for the project that we have seen indicate that Mota Engil which won the bid at first before it was re-advertised presented a revised bid of K82 billion, D&M quoted the deal at K70 billion, CR 20 at K68 billion while China Civils was the lowest at K63 billion. Hara still went ahead to award the contract to CR20 at K68 billion as the lowest bid.
“We can clearly see that CR20 was not the lowest bidder and what is surprising is that in this restricted tender, the lowest bidder did not get the contract, very strange how this has happened,” said our inside source.
On Nick Chakwera’s role in influencing the award of the contract to CR20, another source corroborated the story that Nick Chakwera has become so powerful that he is ordering some ministers around especially Minister Hara.
“It is well known by all people in government that Nick Chakwera is the one who ‘appointed’ Jacob Hara as Minister of Transport and Public Woks because he is a Pastor in his church and he now takes instructions from him. As we speak, Nick Chakwera is pushing hard to his dad that his ‘best friend’ Vitumbiko Mumba who works for CR20 should be appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Roads Authority (RA) and trust me this will happen,” challenged the source.
“You can check where Nick Chakwera was last week and what he was doing, you will be shocked,” added the source.
Our investigations have revealed that Nick Chakwera was in South Africa last week where he met various business people and promised them construction works contracts in the country.
One of the business people Nick Chakwera met confided in us on condition of anonymity that indeed Chakwera’s son offered him some business opportunities in the construction industry in Malawi.
“Yes, I can confirm that I met Nick Chakwera and we are still talking on the offers he made,” said the businessman.