China has expressed its wish to see construction projects in Malawi fully handled and managed by Malawians instead of depending on foreign expertise.
Speaking in Lilongwe when he welcomed a delegation of Malawi Government officials who attended a three-week seminar on infrastructure planning and construction in China, Chinese Ambassador Shi-Ting Wang said the training was important to empower Malawians to lead in the infrastructure development.
He said for most of the Chinese-financed projects, the Chinese occupied managerial positions, a situation which is likely to change if more Malawians are trained.
Said Shi-Ting: “Over the past decade, the efforts made by different stakeholders in Malawi to develop infrastructure, construction and urban planning have encouraged the Chinese Government and investors to come and invest in Malawi.”
The training course, which took place at Shanghai Business School, was attended by 20 officials from district councils and other relevant government departments.
In his remarks, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said the training was timely as government was focusing on infrastructure development in both urban and rural areas.
He cited construction of rural growth centres and roads as some projects which require proper planning.
Said the minister: “Contractors have taken advantage of the situation to put up substandard projects… But with this kind of training, I hope we will improve on the way we do business.”
But Nankhumwa expressed concern that he was not aware that some officials in his ministry had gone to China for the training until when he was asked to preside over the ceremony to welcome them back.
He said: “It is not like we would say no, but we need to know as a line ministry in case something happens. You invited senior officers, including the deputy mayor for Kasungu Municipality. Next time inform us about such an arrangement. I like to call a spade a spade.”
In an interview, the Ambassador said they deal with the Department of Human Resource Management and Development; hence, they did not need to inform the concerned ministries and department instead the department of human resources would have done so.
Since the birth of diplomatic relations between Malawi and China in 2007, major Chinese construction projects in the country, such as Bingu National Stadium, Parliament Building, Bingu International Convention Centre and The President’s five-star hotel in Lilongwe as well as Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo, had more Chinese workers in skilled positions at the expense of locals who provided non-skilled labour. n