By Peter Kanjere, PRO
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) Limited has unveiled an ambitious plan to replace Escom House, which fire damaged in 2013, with a modern multi-storey office building in the next two-and-a-half years.
Escom Board Chairperson, Fredrick Changaya, announced the plans for the project on Friday, August 13 2021, when addressing members of the press on the sidelines of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Infrastructure members’ inspection of the burnt office building in Blantyre.
He said architectural designs were at an advanced stage for the building project, which would also include a modern car park and office blocks for the government agencies and departments to rent at subsidised rates.
“The plan is not to bring back what was burnt. This is CBD Blantyre. Our plan is to make sure that we have a high-rise office block that is going to house all Escom employees in Blantyre. We want to have specifically the head office and related services to have a one-stop office building where you come for connections, you find us here; you come for faults, you find us here; you want finance you find us here,” he said.
Changaya said the new Board of Directors was determined to ensure that all financial resources for Escom go towards service delivery such as preventive maintenance and faults clearing instead of spending millions of kwacha on rentals as is the case now.
Escom Holding office relocated to rented offices of Umoyo House along Victoria Avenue in Blantyre after Escom House got burnt, a development Changaya said was not sustainable.
“We know that it has taken very long and we don’t know why but as the new Board and the new Government, we have undertaken to make sure that this structure is replaced.
“…if you talk about economic development, you must do other things that can save the economic envelope and ensure that we spend more not on buildings but on services,” the Board Chairperson said.
Sourcing funding for the project should not be a cause for headache, as the Board would explore the Public Private Partnership approach to secure financial support towards construction works, Changaya added.
Addressing members of the press earlier, Chairperson of the parliamentary committee, Uchizi Mkandawire, said works on Escom House had delayed partly because some quarters of the public had, a few years ago, reservations with the then Escom Management’s plan to demolish the building at a cost of K600 million which was felt to be on the higher side.
He said the new Board had changed the approach whereby the same contractor engaged to demolish the structure would do the construction works.
“Previously, they had an approach to build in two phases: the first phase to engage a contractor to do the demolition and the second phase to do the building, but now they have changed their approach. They are going to do the demolition while at the same time building, so it is going to be one project,” Mkandawire said.
Escom is a government-owned company charged with procurement, transmission and distribution of electricity in the country.
STRESSING A POINT—Changaya
Escom Board Chairperson, Fredrick Changaya.