Govt calls for partnership among local contractors

Lilongwe, The Ministry of Transport and Public Works has called on indigenous local contractors to organise themselves in partnerships if they want to win big contracts in construction projects from government.

Minister responsible Jappie Mhango made the call on Thursday in Lilongwe during an annual conference of Malawi Building and Civil Engineering Contractors and Allied Trades Association (Mabcata) held at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC).

Mhango was responding to concerns from most members of the grouping who said government sidelines indigenous contractors by awarding huge money contracts to foreign contractors only.

Many indigenous local contractors lack capacity to be awarded huge contracts. Large and foreign firms get these type of contracts because they have both the human and financial resources, Mhango said.

He appealed to the contractors to stop working in isolation and come up with companies whereby a number of people would come together and build their human and financial capacities.

This is the best way they can access huge contracts. For example, if you want to award them contracts, you find that many of them do not have graders and necessary equipment to do the job. How would you trust such people with huge amounts of money? Mhango said.

He also bemoaned the low quality work from local contractors and collusion in corrupt practices that he cited as other factors that deny them opportunities to be granted multi-million projects.

President for Mabcata Wickly Mhango said promoting partnership and working relationship was one of the reasons the grouping decided to come together and hold its first ever annual conference.

He admitted that there have been challenges in the past in terms of capacity but argued that the indigenous contractor cannot be ignored forever.

Capacity is built within. Not all contractors are bad. Some of the contractors have grown and doing great. Joint ventures can be achieved if these contractors are given multi-billion money contracts, said the Mabcata chief.

He pointed out that the national budget shows that substantive money goes to the construction industry with 85 percent consumed by foreign contractors.

The country loses out because the foreign and other local contractors externalise this money. If indigenous contractors got a fair share, the money would remain here and help to build the capacity of the local contractors, said Wickly Mhango.

He added that contractors under Mabcata membership strive for delivery of quality work and that those not registered with the body are the ones tainting the image of the construction sector with poor construction works.

The two-day annual conference for Mabcata ended on Friday. It was held under the theme Construction excellence we can deliver.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA