The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has threatened to terminate the irrigation scheme rehabilitation contract awarded to Sempha Construction Company for failing to meet contractual agreements.
Sempha was awarded the contract in July 2021 under DoDMA’s project, Post Cyclone Idai Emergency Recovery (PCIERP) to rehabilitate four irrigation schemes expected to benefit 2,108 farming families in Traditional Authorities (T/A) Ndamera, Tengani and Malemia in Nsanje.
According to PCIERP project management unit, the works were to be completed in December 2021 but was extended to February and due to effects of Tropical Storm Ana, it was again extended to end July.
In order to speed up the process, DoDMA called for a meeting early August where it ordered Sempha to deliver construction materials at Bangula warehouse and was given 45 days to deliver the materials and complete the works failing which; the contract would go into liquidated damages.
Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba, in company of officials from the irrigation department, PCIERP and the council visited Bangula on Thursday to appreciate the quality of the delivered materials as per the agreement; but to their surprise, some materials were not part of the delivered consignment and the managing director did not show up for the meeting despite several reminders.
Kalemba said the situation was very annoying as it delays the intended beneficiaries to start benefiting and contribute to the country’s food basket but also make their homes food secure.
He said government has been so lenient with the contractor allowing the extension of the contract a number of times.
“The contractor was invited into this meeting but surprisingly he has failed to show up. Several attempts to call him has proved futile as he is not picking up the calls. He has delegated someone who has no information on the way forward and did not inform PCIERP of his failure to attend the meeting,” said Kalemba.
Kalemba said he was doubtful that the specified 45 days’ completion period would be met considering the amount of work to be done and the fact that only 19 days were remaining for the completion of the works.
He said: “Failure to attend this meeting shows that the contractor is not serious. And as it stands, they have failed to provide a plan that would give hope to the community on the way forward of the project and this calls for an action.”
When asked about the plan, Sempha Construction representative Patrick Phiri said he had come to show the commissioner and the team what they had delivered and had no any other information.
“I cannot lie that we have immediate plans to share with the communities on how we are going to proceed. I feel that they are some grey areas that need to be discussed with my boss,” said Phiri.
Phiri admitted that some materials like cables were missing on the delivered consignment and was quick to refer the issue to the managing director.
Communities surrounding the schemes have been complaining about the delay in rehabilitating the structures that was damaged by Cyclone Idai and threatened to chase away the contractor.
PCIERP is rehabilitating five Schemes, namely Makhapa, Mtolongo, Nyambembere, Mkuluwamitete and Chimwala-Mbangu.
Chimwala-Mbangu was constructed by CAS Construction Company and was handed over to the community who have already planted maize which is at tussling stage.