The construction industry in Malawi is a vital part of the country’s economy, and the quality of infrastructure is a major concern for captains of the industry as well as the general citizenry. This is why captains of the industry from National Construction Industry Council, Malawi Engineering Institution (MEI), Malawi Institute of Architects (MIA) and the Directorate of Buildings held a public panel discussion to tackle the matter. The institutions were represented by Eng. Gerald Khonje, Eng. Arthur Wengawenga, Arch. Cathy Sani and Arch. Sam Ngoma; respectively.
Quality infrastructure provides a foundation for economic growth, as it allows businesses to operate efficiently and effectively. It also helps to improve access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and transportation. Quality infrastructure also helps to create jobs and attract foreign investment, which can be used to further develop the country. The construction industry in Malawi is responsible for building and maintaining the country’s infrastructure. Poorly constructed roads, bridges, and buildings can lead to accidents, delays, and other problems. Poorly constructed infrastructure can also lead to environmental degradation, as it can cause water and air pollution. Therefore, it is essential that captains of the industry ensure that the infrastructure they build is of the highest quality.
The panelists observed that there are several challenges in ensuring quality infrastructure. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of resources where it was observed that employers (project owners) lack the necessary funds to purchase high-quality materials and hire experienced workers. This contributes to substandard construction work, which can have serious consequences. Another challenge is a lack of knowledge and expertise especially for projects implemented at local government level in which service providers are mainly local artisans without any formal training and exposure. This results in projects that substandard and leads to costly mistakes and delays in construction projects.
Panelists further noted that poor collaboration between government institutions is another contributor to the challenges affecting quality of infrastructure. For instance, members wondered why responsible bodies allows substandard materials to come into Malawi or indeed be produced for the construction market. Another issue on collaboration is where it was observed that government agencies come up with infrastructure budgets, severally, without proper consultations with the Department of Buildings and other relevant stakeholders.
The panelists further bemoaned corruption in the industry which is a vice that is eating away the gains that the industry made in the past. Members also mentioned political interference in which politicians meddle in matters that are supposed to thoroughly be dealt with by professionals who are well trained and licensed to execute projects in a professional manner.
In the final analysis, members agreed that it is high time when the country and industry stakeholders should have a candid discussion and tease out solutions to ensure that the construction industry regain its lost glory which comes with quality of its products and services.
Herewith link to the panel discussion: https://fb.watch/isYQ26_P1V/