A local firm has taken over the multi-billion kwacha Lilongwe City Council’s modern international and intercity bus terminal project, which the council had previously earmarked to be implemented by Khato Civils, Nation on Sunday can reveal.
With pomp and fanfare LCC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Khato Civils owned by South African-based Malawian business mogul Simbi Phiri to construct a modern intercity and international bus depot in Lilongwe.
The project delayed due to disagreements between LCC and Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, which had allocated the earmarked land to private investor David Bonongwe of Moni Bus Services and International Trade Centre.
But the project is now about to take off at the proposed site under a new investor, Napoleon Dzombe of Mtalimanja Holdings, who is said to have bought both the concept and land from Bonongwe.
In an interview, Dzombe confirmed taking over the project and that he has partnered with a Chinese firm which is expected to construct the terminal estimated at around $19 million (about K14 billion).
Dzombe is said to have paid off Bonongwe in excess of K400 million in exchange for the land, but will still be using the name Moni Buses and International Trade Centre, under which the plot is registered.
Dzombe admitted buying off the project, but was hesitant to indicate how much he paid Bonongwe.
“I gave him something in appreciation. I am not comfortable to mention it with instruction from him. For whatever reasons, he did not want me to mention the amount. And I would like to accord him that confidentiality,” said Dzombe, who also admitted paying about K225 million in development charges, which Bonongwe could not settle.
The development essentially pushes away Khato Civils, which according to a summary report on the 2016 Malawi Investment Forum we have seen, signed three MoUs—to construct the Salima–Lilongwe waterway, to implement toll-gate project and, also construct the intercity and International bus terminal.
Malawi Investment Trade Centre (Mitc) public relations manager Deliby Chimbalu said LCC is better placed to comment on the new development.
“We facilitate investment and we did exactly that during the 2016 Malawi Investment Forum. As regard the bus depot project, you may wish to check with Lilongwe City Council, they should be able to tell you of the progress,” said Chimbalu.
A letter we have seen, signed by LCC chief executive officer (CEO) Moza Zeleza to the Investment Promotion Manager at Mitc shows LCC’s approval of Mtalimanja’s designs of the bus depot project.
As we went to press, Zeleza had not responded to our questionnaire submitted over three weeks ago, despite several reminders.
But spokesperson for Khatho Civils Taonga Botolo said they are more than ready to construct the new bus terminal should LCC resolve its wrangles regarding the allocated land.
Put to him that the project has been taken over by another investor, Botolo said Khato Civils is not worried because their prime focus is on the Salima–Lilongwe water project.
Bonongwe confirmed about Mtalimanja Holdings bailing him out on development charges.