Electrical contractors say they are losing business to uncertified and unregistered firms despite having the backing of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) and the National Construction and Industry Council (NCIC).
In an interview on Tuesday, Electrical Contractors Association of Malawi (Elcam) adviser Montfort Stewart Mataya said while members are encouraged to register with the two institutions as per their mandate, it is discouraging that most paid up contractors are failing to secure business.
“We feel we are only giving out money in registration and certification fees with no returns and benefits,” said Mataya, who owns Namisanga Electrical Contractors in Lilongwe.
He said that while efforts to engage authorities have been fruitless, Elcam hopes authorities would be aggressive in regulating the industry to ensure that registered contractors are duly accorded the benefits.
Figures from Mera indicate that individual application per year for class A costs K10 000, class B K9 000, class C and E K8 000 while class D costs K7 000 and are renewed annually at K5 000, K4 500, K4 000 and K3 500, respectively.
NCIC electrical contractors under K10 million category pay K15 000 for registration, K25 000 for those in K20 million category, K60 000 for those in K50 million category, K90 000 for those in K100 million category, K160 000 for those in K200 million category, K200 000 for those in K500 million category, K500 000 for those in K1 billion category and K1 million for those in unlimited category. These charges are renewed annually at the same rates.
In a written response to a questionnaire, Mera spokesperson Fitina Khonje said getting certified by Mera is an obligation under the Electricity Act and it is illegal to use uncertified contractors.
She said: “Use of certified installers assures clients of compliance with standards and quality of service; hence, value for their money. On the other hand, it is illegal to use uncertified contractors. Furthermore, uncertified contractors are not regulated and may not be obliged to follow up where things are not in order.
“It will not be easy to know competencies of the contractors since they have not been assessed by a competent authority. Poor workmanship may put at risk the whole infrastructure and people’s lives if the wiring is not properly done.”
Khonje appealed to people to desist from engaging uncertified installers, saying this is in the interest of safety of people and property, quality, efficiency, effectiveness and value for money.
In an interview, NCIC corporate affairs officer Lyford Gideon said it is not the mandate of the institution to monitor how businesses are transacted but rather to regulate the contractors in the industry.