By Wahard Betha
Local civil engineering firm ProjEx Group has managed to swim through Malawi’s murky economic waters to emerge as a giant in the field of railway maintenance and construction.
Corporate Director for the Group Phillip Tembo says in an interview that commitment to quality is the reason for the growth of the firm, which was established in 2011 as company providing both building and civil engineering services.
“ProjEx is able to execute any kind of job in railway construction and maintenance with expertise. We also have the expertise to work on projects related to water, roads, bridges, building and any other construction and civil works,” Tembo says.
The Company is, currently, executing various projects including: Upgrading and expanding of Chintheche Water Supply System for Northern Region Water Board (NRWB); rehabilitation of Section Chipala (KM507) to Mchinji (KM696 -Chipata Border) Railway Line in Malawi for CEAR and; construction of civil works on rail line at Blantyre Depot for National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA).
Tembo says the Company has a well-established Quality Management System (QMS) that aims at identifying principles and processes that ensure quality assurance and quality control of their work.
He says the primary focus of the QMS is to meet the clients’ specifications and requirements and to strive to exceed their expectations.
Tembo says: “ProjEx uses structured processes, with controls at all levels from the managers to the personnel performing each task.
“The aim is to make sure that the different activities are performed according to specifications and requirements and to continuously improve each process.”
“Quality assurance is achieved through our control of documents and records, internal quality audits and internal control of non-conformances.”
“As one way of ensuring quality control and delivering high-quality testing of construction and civil engineering materials, the company invested in establishing a well-equipped materials laboratory.”
“To adhere to specifications, testing of materials is critical and crucial. ProjEx Materials laboratory provides vital testing on soils/gravel, aggregates and concrete. We also have equipment for testing materials on site.”
On Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE), Tembo says the Company has a full department headed by a qualified manager dedicated to look after OSHE issues.
He says before acquiring or renting a new machine for projects they are executing, they always perform a pre-inspection that enables them to check if the machines conform to different standards regarding OSHE.
Tembo says operators for the machines are also required to undergo through trainings before they operate the machines.
He explains “While on the work front, operators are required to perform daily inspection checks on the machines to see if they conform to different OSHE guidelines or standards.”
“If the machines are found to have nonconformities, quick efforts to correct them are implemented immediately.”
“ProjEx Group also commits itself to maintaining its equipment as specified by different machine specifications.”
“Whether maintenance is done in the field or workshop, efforts to manage the environment are implemented. For example, if there are spillages, control is done with the presence of spill kits and a waste management plan is also followed to allow proper disposal of the waste.”
However, Tembo describes business in the year 2022 as tough as the prices of most construction materials have risen due to the 25% devaluation that the Reserve Bank effected within the year.
He also says scarcity of foreign exchange contributed to challenges for the Group as the contracts they execute rely on imported materials.
Tembo says: “Things have gotten worse now with fuel supply shortages which have caused distraction of major works for the projects we are doing especially the rehabilitation of the railway line from Chipala to Mchinji.”
“This project uses a lot of machinery and fuel is one of the major commodities being used so our business has been affected badly.”
“Nonetheless, we appreciate the efforts government is doing to overcome these challenges and it is our belief that things will improve and get back to normal.”
Projex Group has offices in all regions of the country and this year has registered a branch in Mozambique and later plans to extend to Zambia.
With over 450 employees, the company has a steel profiling factory currently producing three types of iron sheets under the brand name ‘Mudzi Malata’ namely: Mudzi tile, IBR and corrugated including producing top rolls.