The Parliamentray Committee on Government Assurances and Public Sector Reforms says most of the criticism about the awarding of the Mzimba Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation Project is a result of frustration and jealousy from unsuccessful bidders.
Committee chairperson Harry Mkandawire, speaking after leading a delegation of his committee to the site on Saturday, alleged that there were some individuals who have been paid by some of the unsuccessful bidders of the contract to frustrate the project.
Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) awarded Sawa Group the contract. The Sawa Group bid was at $10.1 million (about K7.5 billion), but NRWB said it noted an error which it calculated resulting into an addition of $4.6 million (about K3.3 billion), making its price $14.7 million (about K11 billion).
The mathematical error, which has been explained in various parliamentary committees, including Public Accounts and Agriculture and Irrigation committees, prompted the committees to investigate the procurement and bidding processes.
During the tour, Mkandawire and his colleagues expressed satisfaction with the cooperation of NRWB amid the controversy and said they were impressed that the board responded positively to all queries.
Said Mkandawire: “We came here in Mzimba to see for ourselves the project site. As you know, there was too much negative publicity about the project and a lot was said, but from our interaction and findings, it is evident that someone was paid by one of the failed bidders to make so much noise.
“Mathematical errors in procurement are possible and NRWB followed everything and the financiers of the project decided to fund them any way. So, we are happy.”
NRWB chairperson the Reverend Howard Matiya Nkhoma said they target August as a completion date for the project and that the bad publicity was one of those moments in procurement and bidding.
The project is financed by the African Development Fund $5 million (about K3.7 billion), Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) Fund for International Development $14.85 million (about K10.6 billion) and the Government of Malawi through NRWB $3 million (about K2 billion).
Project components includes installation of 31 kilometres of pipelines to convey water to five storage tanks across Mzimba town, construction of operational buildings and staff houses besides improving waste management. n