The Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, has expressed concern on cost overruns, project delays and corruption in the construction industry and he has threatened to name and shame the culprits.
Chilima made the remarks on Tuesday when he officially opened the 3-day 5th International Construction Conference held at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Dr. Chilima, who is also champion for the Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) initiative, said the malpractices were uncalled for and a taint to the image of the industry and that something had to be done before it was too late.
“I know there is indiscipline, corruption, bribery and a deep seated culture of allowances that is choking operations in the industry… There have been media revelations that projects which do not have provision for allowances suffer a lot because officials shun such projects,” said Chilima.
He continued: “This is uncalled for and morally wrong, to say the least. This has to stop. You are holding your country to a ransom at the expense of personal needs.”
The Vice President said he was made to believe that there was a conflict of interest by some quarters in the sector who would do whatever it would take to delay government projects so that they benefited through inflated costs.
“Come to think about delayed projects like the Cancer Centre project, Phalombe Hospital, and Chikwawa Teachers Colleges,” said Chilima. “Aren’t we delaying our own development and punishing the future generation for the sins they haven’t committed?
“Think about the abandoned or delayed health centers, class room blocks. What and where is our conscious when we steal funds or frustrate projects that are purely meant to uplift the life of the poor citizen in the village or indeed across the country?”
Dr. Chilima concluded by stressing that as Cost Champion, he would work hand in hand with the National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) and the line ministry “to name and shame those who will be found on the wrong side of the law”.
NCIC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Linda Phiri, admitted that there had indeed been cases of corruption; delaying projects and overrun costs and that as Council they had taken action.
“We have a committee that investigates such malpractices and whenever there is evidence of such malpractice we evoke the licenses of the involved contractors and we publish their names in the papers,” said Phiri.
The 5th International Construction Conference has drawn over 250 participants in the construction industry from Malawi and across the SADC region.
The theme for the conference is Construction Industry Relevance; a Shift Towards Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure and it is aimed at finding lasting solutions to the challenges facing the industry in the wake of climate change.
Quantity Survey expert, Prof. Daniel Hoffman of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, is the key speaker at the conference with his presentation on Green Building innovation.