Jacob Hara, the newly appointed Minister of Transport and Public Works has clarified the reasons for the ministry’s refusal to comply with the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s (ACB’s) order to reconstitute a Evaluation Committee.
The Bureau gave the ministry up to December 18, 2021, to reconstitute the Committee, which was to re-evaluate the bids and identify a new contractor for the Marka and Bangula Railway Project.
But as of Thursday, December 22, 2021, the ministry had not yet complied with the order.
When Hara was asked about why they refused to follow the order, Hara said that there were a variety of reasons.
He stated, among other things, that the bids were already expired when they met on Monday to discuss it.
” We wrote to the Bureau about it, and they were able to understand our position. They have replied to us this morning. Hara stated that they are fully committed to complying with this order.
He stated that the ministry would soon submit another tender for the project.
ACB Director Martha Chizuma stated that the Bureau is patiently awaiting the ministry’s fulfillment of its obligations.
“So let us wait,” Chizuma said in a short interview. However, the development has not pleased Centre for Mindset Change (CMC), which has been pushing for the expedited process of identifying a new contractor for the MK48.2billion project.
In a separate interview, Philip Kamangirah, CMC executive director, stated that defiance of an order by a legally-constituted body doesn’t paint a positive picture for the ministry.
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Kamangirah further said the act sets a bad precedent.
“It is worrisome to note that officials from the ministry could decide to defy orders from a legally established institution like that of ACB. He said that he was aware of the corrupt deals and shoddy dealings between Mota Engil and certain Ministry of Transport and Public Works officials.
He warned that, as a governance institution, they would fight to the end until those involved in this corruption cartel are brought to book.
The Marka-Bangula Railway section has four stations, which are considered for rehabilitation. These stations include Mark Station and Nsanje Station, Tengani Station and Bangula Station.
The contract was awarded to the Portuguese Contractor, Mota Engil Africa, at the initial sum of US$70,035,427.94.
The rehabilitation works commenced in March 2018 and the initial period of performance was for 14 Months, which implied that the project should have been completed in May 2019.
In September 2021, ACB stopped the Ministry of Transport and Public Works from awarding the contract for the upgrading of the same project over corruption allegations.
Mota-Engil Africa emerged as the successful bidder with the lowest price of MK48, 244, 861, 524. 98 against two others, China Railway (MK59, 906, 673, 465. 11) and China Civil Engineering (MK79 766 540 032.76).