Marka-Bangula railway project contractor China 20 has justified Ministry of Transport and Public Works projections indicating that the contract price could rise from K68.2 billion to K96.2 billion.
In an interview yesterday, China 20 technical and business development manager Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba said the scope of work has increased, requiring additional resources.
He said: “Cyclones Ana and Gombe took place during the prolonged tender stage while Cyclone Freddy happened after award of the contract. There is one bridge which was initially designed at 90 metres [m], but now it has to be over 111m long.
“New streams have also developed, resulting in more culvert crossings and in some cases, bridges. Track formation height has to be raised at least 0.5m above the flood lines. The flood lines are already way above the designed embankment height, in some cases more than 1.5m.”
Mumba said there are also variations to the scope of works initiated by the ministry, including an increase in length of loop lines from 641m to 750m to match with those in Mozambique from Beira port to Villa Nova through Mutarara.
He further said there is also an addition of railway sidings and loop lines at Marka, Nsanje, Tengani and Bangula stations to facilitate efficient train operations and match line capacity.
The contractor’s reaction follows a Ministry of Transport and Public Works communication proposing an increase in the contract price.
But Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara told yesterday’s The Nation edition that while he directed a review during a July 31 meeting, the projected jump in the contract price was on the higher side and that he will act on the memo once he gets hold of it.
Should the new cost be effected, it means the cost of the project will increase from K48 billion when the project was first offered to Portuguese construction and multi-disciplinary conglomerate Mota-Engil in 2021 to K68 billion quoted by China 20.
In 2020, President Lazarus Chakwera and his Mozambican counterpart Felipe Nyusi agreed to revive the railway line between the two countries which is Malawi’s shortest route to the port of Beira. Mozambique completed its section from Mutarara to Marka while Malawi is still working on its 72-kilometre section.