Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale stopped the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) from proceeding with the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) in the project of tapping water from Lake Malawi in Salima to the capital, the water utility told the Budget and Finance parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
The proposed project to pump water from Lake Malawi to the capital city, which is 125 kilometres away, has drawn mixed reactions due to, among others, lack of a feasibility study.
But Alfonso Chikuni, the CEO of LWB told the committee that as the water utility were about to advertise for the independent ESIA, they received a letter from Attorney General advising them not to go ahead with the process.
"The letter from the AG is available for your scrutiny," Alfonso told the committee during the meeting in Lilongwe.
He said the implementation structure of the project is taking care is ESIA needs and requirements.
According to Chikuni, the LWB will use the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) method of contracting arrangement where the contractor is made responsible for all activities from design, procurement, and construction to commissioning and handover to the client.
Chikuni said the project contractor would own risk for schedule and budget in return for a fixed price
The project was awarded to Khato Civils through a restricted tender.
Chikuni clarified that restricted tender according to the Public Procurement Act, is within the law.
"There wasn't anything wrong that we did in the process of identifying the contractor," Chikuni said.
Committee chairperson Rhino Chiphiko said the MPs were satisfied were satisfied with facts regarding the project and that LWB presentation was plausible.
The committee believe the project remained the most practical way towards addressing water woes.
He assured the water board the parliamentary committee's "support", saying he will be interacting with the Secretary to Treasury and Ministry of Finance to "continuously ask for their support of the project."
Chiphiko said it was unfortunate Attorney General was putting "spanners in the works."
It is expected that the contractor will identify a financier or financiers and government will only guarantee the loan.