Parliament has exerted pressure on a contractor to return two heavy construction machines that government hired out in 2015 and is currently stuck in Zambia.
The contractor, Shire Construction Company Limited (SCCL), is also being requested to settle hiring fees amounting to at least K300 million for the four years the equipment has been away.
This follows Weekend Nation story published last November, which revealed how the earth moving equipment were hired out to the private company and ended up being stuck in neighbouring Zambia.
According to the Parliamentary Committee on Transport chairperson Robert Mwina, the contractor has since made an undertaking to pay the money and replace the machines by March this year.
In an interview this week, Mwina indicated that he engaged SCCL managing director Peter Malfense Fierro, who committed to pay back what his firm owes government as well as replace the machines.
“The contractor said it was going to be difficult for the company to recall the machines back to Malawi due to some contractual obligations with the revenue authorities in Zambia. It is easier to replace than to recall them,” explained Mwina.
SCCL was awarded a contract by the Zambian Government to construct bridges across the Eastern region in Zambia.
The agreement between government and the contractor was for the firm to use the machines for six months at K25 million, according to government records.
The equipment consist of an Ackar and Pilcon Pelcan used for drilling stone and soil samples that are tested in laboratories to determine viability before commencement of construction works such as roads, bridges and tall buildings.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has indicated that it is keenly following the matter and may institute an investigation depending on how the issue plays out.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, in a telephone interview this week, observed that the bureau first wants to understand the transaction and see if there was any element of corruption.
The deal to hire out the equipment to the private company was approved by the then minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila and director of roads Kelvin Mphonda.
But both Kasaila and Mphonda, in earlier interviews, denied approving or appending their signatures to the contract to hire the machines.
However, a confidential memorandum of understanding (MoU) that Weekend Nation has seen shows that both Kasaila and Mphonda approved the request to hire out the equipment on July 21 2015.