Malawi: Simbi's Khato Blames Treasury On Salima-Lilongwe Water Project Delays

26 November 2020

Multi-billion Salima-Lilongwe mega water project contractors have blamed the government for the five year delay to start the project.

Khato Civils says the delay to kickstart the project is due to Ministry of Finance's delay to sign a loan guarantee with the financiers the company has identified.

The South Africa-based Khato Civils chief executive officer, Mungozi Munyani said this on Thursday monring to the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change.

Speaking via video link from Johannesburg, he said Khato Civils-South Zambezi Joint Venture-- submitted the designs and all the required documentation in August this year.

"We are ready to roll out the project. Our only challenge is that the Ministry of Finance has not signed the loan guarantee," he said.

Khato Civils chairperson Simbi Phiri - a Malawian business mogul based in South Africa recently said his firm is geared to execute the much-awaited project to tap water from Salima to Lilongwe with a reduced cost by $102 million (about K73 billion).

The Lilongwe-Salima Water Supply Project has always stirred controversy as the project, for years, failed to roll out.

Simbi Phiri at one point blamed some politicians during the administration of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some government officials, saying they were bent at frustrating the project for their own selfish reasons.

But the new Tonse Alliance administration has resolved the bottlenecks and allowed the project to be start in earnest which has seen the two sides held a virtual meeting where government was represented by Ministry of Finance, Department of Environmental Affairs and the Lilongwe Water Board.

The committee's chairperson Welani Chilenga said it is a concern that five years have elapsed since the signing of the agreement of the project but the project is failing to take off.

He said the project is important as it would ease water problems facing Lilongwe and surrounding districts.

The Salima-Lilongwe water project has been a subject of legal battles with the civil society taking the government to court for awarding the firm the contract before an environmental assessment was done, a matter which Khato Civils won.

The project, if done, is expected to provide water to the city of Lilongwe via a 120-kilometre pipeline from Lake Malawi.

Khato Civils is on record to have said that it spent $71.2 million of its money on the required processes prior to starting the project.

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