Marep 9 to miss March 31 deadline

Marep 9 to miss March 31 deadline

Controversy-riddled Malawi Rural Electrification Programme  Phase 9 (Marep 9) is set to miss its March 31 2024 deadline with just 20 sites out of 469 having power infrastructure constructed.

Speaking in an interview yesterday, Ministry of Energy Principal Secretary Alfonso Chikuni said the March 31 deadline was not practical as construction of the power lines started late.

A technician connects a rural dwelling to the grid under Marep

He said work in some sites started in January while in other sites it started in February.

“When we were setting the March 31 target, the plan was that we will sign contracts by September. However, contracts were signed in December and contractors started work in January while others started in February,” said Chikuni.

He said about 20 sites have been completed and progress in other sites is at different levels.

Chikuni further said the works are being expedited so that the programme can be completed. However he could not say when it will be completed and switched on.

On resources, he said they are available, but he feared that the programme will face challenges towards the end due to a K40 billion deficit.

He said remittance of the Marep levy funds has been a challenge that has affected the resources for the project.

Marep, among others, is funded through a rural electrification levy in the petroleum pump price build up. The levy is collected by the Malawi Revenue Authority.

Initially, Marep 9 was estimated to cost K40 billion in 2022, but due to devaluation of the kwacha and other factors it was revised to K70 billion.

Marep was mooted to increase access to electricity, especially in rural areas where just about five percent of the population are connected. Malawi Government plans to increase access to 30 percent by 2030 and eventually to 100 percent using both the national grid and solar.

Since Marep started in 1980s, over 1 166 sites have been connected to the national grid benefiting over 60 000 households or over 300 000 people accessing electricity.

Parliamentary Committee on Health chairperson Mathews Ngwale lamented the delays in implementation of Marep 9, saying it has huge impact on health services.

He said a number of health activities require electricity, hence, operating without electricity affects delivery of services as well as putting lives at risk.

According to a recent report of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change on implementation of Marep 9, the Ministry of Energy started planning in 2019. However, four years down the line, the programme has not been completed due to a number of challenges.

The first tender for the supply of Marep 9 materials was floated in May 2020. However, the Tonse Alliance administration suspended issuance of new contracts in June 2020, a development which led to the expiry of bid validities.

Upon lifting of the ban, retendering began, but the process was stopped again by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) because of some irregularities reported to and confirmed by the ACB.

Procurement of contractors for construction of the power lines also experienced delays in granting of no objection

Marep started in 1980 under Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi as the implementing agency through donor financing. In 1995, the Government of Malawi took over implementation of the programme with the Department of Energy as the implementing agency.

The post Marep 9 to miss March 31 deadline first appeared on The Nation Online.

The post Marep 9 to miss March 31 deadline appeared first on The Nation Online.