At least six companies risk being deregistered for failing to deliver after pocketing a 30 percent part-payment to supply materials for the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep) K40 billion Phase IX project.
Ministry of Energy Principal Secretary Alfonso Chikuni disclosed in an interview this week that since the companies signed the Bid Securing Declaration, the ministry intends to write the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) to have the suppliers disbarred.
A technician connects a rural dwelling to the grid under Marep
In January this year, the ministry extended contracts of 38 contractors for three months and according to Chikuni, another two months extension has been granted but it is doubtful if the six companies will perform.
He said: “Granting addendums for the materials under the six failed suppliers was not an optimal approach owing to price escalations since the bids were submitted more than 18 months ago. Therefore, the ministry will re-advertise for new tenders.”
The PS added that going to the locally-available suppliers outside the ones that were awarded contracts would not be in compliance with PPDA approval that was granted to the ministry.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s acting director of energy Joseph Kalowekamo has revealed that Phase IX of the programme will roll out end July 2023 and is estimated to cost K70 billion.
Marep IX was expected to roll out towards end of last year and was estimated to cost K40 billion. The money was available but delays to implement it have cost the country billions following devaluation of the kwacha.
In an interview on Thursday after the Ministry of Energy appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources to update it on the status of Marep IX Kalowekamo attributed the rise in the cost of the project to, among other things, devaluation of the kwacha last year.
According to him, the Ministry of Energy has engaged Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Malawi to assist suppliers in securing forex so that materials are delivered on time.
“We have made submissions to PPDA [Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority] to check the contract documents so that we are given the ‘No Objection’ to enable us to award the contracts.
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change chairperson Werani Chilenga expressed disappointment with how Marep Phase IX has been handled.
“The way the Ministry of Energy is handling it leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of misprocurement and lack of seriousness,” he said.
Chilenga warned that if the ministry fails to deliver on the set targets, the committee will take serious actions, including recommending removal of some officials.
Recently, Forum for National Development wrote ACB and the Financial Intelligence Authority to probe how Marep awarded the contracts, and made advance payments, ranging from K100 million to K3 billion, to the companies.
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