By Staff Writer:
Some technocrats in government are deliberately misleading government’s principal legal adviser Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda over contracts being performed by the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd), the company has said.
The AG is said to have warned Fisd directors against dismantling solar-powered water equipment in Phalombe District which could affect 43,000 people accessing clean water following disagreements over payments which have dragged on for two years since the completion of the project by Fisd.
Fisd Construction company Chief Executive Officer Raymond Mwenitete said the company has decided to dismantle the equipment in Phalombe since the government is playing hide and seek in paying the K600 million bill for the project.
However, Chakaka Nyirenda reacted angrily to the move by Fisd threatening the company that removing the equipment will amount to vandalism, describing it a ‘serious criminal offence’.
He told a local newspaper on Thursday that Fisd has contracts with the government some successful and some unsuccessful citing a project in Ntcheu which he said Fisd ‘received a double payment which they accepted but are refusing to refund government’.
But Mwenitete, reacting to Chakaka Nyirenda’s threats, said some technocrats in government are misleading the AG by withholding truthful information about Fisd projects.
“We feel the AG is being misled by some greedy technocrats who have kept critical information packs and communication trails under wraps,” said Mwenitete.
“It is very unfortunate that up to date, the AG is failing to get correct information from concerned officials in government about issues concerning the so-called double payments for the Ntcheu project.”
“We cannot comment much on this issue because as you are aware four of our Directors at FISD Limited Company were arrested in connection with this issue and it has been 14 months since their arrest and the state is yet to commence the case against them in court. We will not comment on issues that are before the courts, let us wait until the courts have disposed of this matter and we believe that the truth will be known after the conclusion of this case,” said Mwenitete.
On the Phalombe project, Mwenitete said there has been a series of communication between government and Fisd regarding the non-honouring of payment certificates for the Project.
“However, in the recent past, the same Government through the Project Coordination Unit wrote us to wait a bit as it was internally processing the payments. We patiently waited until we almost gave up and decided to terminate our contract with them and the non-payment of certificates being the main reason. We have been waiting for our payment for almost two years now,” explained Mwenitete.
“As a company, we also observed that the Consultant of the project insists that some works that were completed some 2 years ago were not sanctioned, therefore, there was no approval for payment. We have had enough on the disputes on this project and we decided to avoid the dispute for once by planning to remove all items in the Bills of Quantities that are allegedly being referred to as ‘unsanctioned works’.
“We have clients who would purchase fairly used items or the water supply equipment. To our surprise, the government is refusing us to remove the so-called ‘unsanctioned works’ yet it is not ready to pay for the same,” said Mwenitete.
“Someone somewhere within the chain of command is misinforming the Attorney General regarding the issues of both Ntcheu and Phalombe Projects,” added Mwenitete.
He explained that the Consultant or Engineer of the Phalombe project was never on-site during construction and said it is disheartening to learn that some technocrats who are putting spanners in the Phalombe Project are doing so for their own ill-motives without thinking about the plight of people in Phalombe who are now accessing clean and portable water because of the ‘unsanctioned works’ that they did to provide clean water to the people in Phalombe
“FISD Company is Malawian owned providing world class irrigation and water supply services for Malawians to have access to clean water but it is being frustrated by fellow Malawians working in government. As a result of the non-payment of the Phalombe project, FISD is on the verge of losing its state-of-the-art office building in Lilongwe because of a loan that we took from Ecobank to purchase materials for the Phalombe project,” said Mwenitete.
“The Attorney General is at liberty to check with us details of our contracts and other communication which the technocrats have hidden from him to make an informed decision on this matter,” challenged Mwenitete.