By Iommie Chiwalo
The murky work by the Chinese investors has prompted Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) to write city fathers to establish if at all Malawians deserve such a mockery in the twenty first century especially when compared to its actual artistic impression.
CDEDI has since taken advantage the Access To Information (ATI) law to demand a copy of the building plan and designs
that were presented before the council for approval, complete with minutes of a committee meeting that approved the same.
“We are looking forward to see receiving the requested information and/or explanation within the next seven (7) days,” reads the letter signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa.
Despite giving that is evident to be a raw deal, China Holdings is floating adverts calling for Malawians to book spaces at the site.
According to Namiwa, this is a clear signal that construction works are now complete.
However, there is no any sign of a grand shopping mall at the said place that can prompt someone to come from Zambia or Mozambique to shop as earlier made to believe.
“This tells us one thing, that what we are seeing on the ground is the final product which disturbingly contradicts the artistic impression of the same structure mounted on a billboard just at the main entrance of these premises. We have attached photos of both the artistic impression of the Grand Business Park and the ‘completed’ structures that are now reportedly ready for use,” reads the letter to Lilongwe City council.
CDEDI has resolved to question the involvement of city authorities because the law is clear that every developer after acquiring land within the council’s jurisdiction is expected to present their building plan before a legally constituted committee of the council for approval.
And even after approval, the council has rangers that act as compliance officers that go around inspecting the construction sites in relation to the approved plans.
“Now the question is that; why were these investors allowed to continue with construction works that were not in tandem with the approved plans? How then would the council justify its apparent blind eye to this eyesore,” queries Namiwa.
The Grand Business Park did not only excite Malawian prospective shoppers who used to fly all the way to Guangzhou for shopping, but also raised high expectations that the face and beauty of the capital city would be enhanced, at least going by the artistic impression as advertised in imposing and
inviting billboards in strategic positions in Lilongwe city and beyond.
But now in its completion state, Malawians especially Lilongwe city residents are refusing to believe that what they are seeing on the ground in Area 46 along the bypass road, is the same structure that was presented to the city authorities for approval.
“To say Malawians are feeling cheated is an understatement, what they are seeing on the ground is not a shopping complex as such, but rather something akin to chicken pens. This is an eyesore to say the least,” said Namiwa.
He has questioned that why did the city authorities decide to keep such public information under wraps in case that the investor changed their mind after promising Malawians the state-of-the-art shopping complex.
“In an unlikely event that the China Holdings did not change the plan, as the general public was made to see through the adverts that included Television and the country’s two daily newspapers, what would be the council’s explanation on existing infrastructure,” queries Namiwa.
Grand Business Park is a product of the inaugural Malawi Investment Forum that was held in Lilongwe in May 2015.
Following their compelling business plan to construct the ‘largest’ business park in the whole Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the government of Malawi allocated 20 hectares of land to the Chinese Investors so as to translate their well-articulated business plan during the
forum into reality.