Supreme Court favours Khato on Salima-Lilongwe Water Project, dismisses CSOs with costs
The Malawi Supreme Court of Appea sitting as full bench of seven judges on Thursday threw out an application by Youth and Society (YAS) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) to join the case in which Malawi Law Society tried to curtail progress on the Salima-Lilongwe Water Supply project.
The two CSOs wanted the matter to revert to the High Court of Malawi to determine the legality of the project in respect of awarding of the contract to Khato Civils Limited as well as commencement of work without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.
YAS and CHRR were denied joining the case after a single Supreme Court of Appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa dismissed their application on December 22 2017 and they appealed
in the hope that the full bench would grant them their wishes.
However, the 7-man panel of judges led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda dismissed the application and condemned YAS and CHRR lawyer Bright Theu to foot all costs for the case.
Counsel for Khato Civils, Chancy Gondwe, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the application saying the proceedings were already nullified by Justice Chikopa in October last year.
Last year’s ruling saw Justice Chikopa throwing out MLS appeal on the basis that the society failed to understand the technicalities of the contract between Lilongwe Water Board and Khato Civils.
The bone of contention was the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment which has since been carried out by a Portuguese consultant and approved by the department of environmental affairs.
MLS thereafter pulled out of the case after acknowledging that most of the issues they were raising were adressed like the ESIA.
Salima-Lilongwe Water project – which will pump, sanitize and transfer clean potable water from Salima to Lilongwe- came as a intervention to decade-long acute water problems in the Capital City which is also Malawi’s seat of government.
Experts forecast that Lilongwe City will soon completely run dry owing to low water levels at Kamuzu Dam.
Khato Civils is a South African based company owned by a Malawian billionaire Simbi Phiri.
Malawi government has already signed a deal with a financier of the K400 billion Lilongwe-Salima Project, Trissag Espanola of South Africa, effectively putting on course the project that has faced several hurdles.
Source: Nyasa Times