Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango on Sunday said good road network plays a crucial role in the enhancement of the socioeconomic growth of the Malawi.
Mhango made the remarks when he toured a road from Chitipa Boma to Ilomba Border Post, at Songwe River, which marks the boundary with Tanzania. The Minister also launched K12.7 million Nakawale Bridge Project on St Micheals –Ilanga Road, in the area of Chief Mwaulambia and ordered the constructor, Kalande Earth Works, to complete the project within 90 days.
Mhango asked the contractor to come up with quality work and warned that he will be blacklisted for poor workmanship.
Government intends to construct a 45 km road under its ambitious programme of developing all border posts, which is in line with the dictates of the COMESA trade block.
“Government is committed to improving road networks across the country on realization that good roads are potential in spurring socioeconomic growth of the nation,” Mhango said.
He said good roads promote trade because they facilitate easy movement of goods and merchandise from one point to another, which leads to economic growth.
The Minister, then said besides promoting crossborder trade, the construction of the road, which connects the two countries, will also promote social development as it will facilitate easy movement of people from the two countries, who share cultural and traditional norms.
The construction of the road is one of the key components of the establishment of one-stop services institution at Ilomba Border Post where people will access important services provided by customs, immigration and other departments.
“We have identified donors who have shown willingness to fund the construction of the road. What remains for us is to conduct a feasibility survey, which will follow the designs so that the project can start,” he added.
Presidential Advisor on Capacity Building and Good Governance, Nickson Aladin Masebo, said developing the Ilomba Border Post into something like a rural growth centre, will also help in protecting food and cash crops, which he said were currently being abused due to absence of a structure to save as market canter.
He lamented that the area is a food basket, but it remains under-developed and people languish in abject poverty, because unscrupulous traders who rip them off by capitalizing on the absence of potential markets.
“All the maize and cash crops such as sun flower, that people from this area grow, are smuggled to neighbouring Tanzania, where they have access to well-established markets” said Masebo.
In Tanzania, at a local town, called Ilete, there are farm produce buying and selling units, like our Admarc depots, which are always loaded with maize from Ilomba area, and other places adjacent to the border, with some produce with the support from farm input subsidy programme (FISP).
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for Chitipa Central, Clement Fukumele Mkumbwa, thanked Government for funding the bridge across Nakawale River, which he said has been a death-trap to his constituents for years.
“In the rainy season, people who dared to cross the river, were swept away and died while pupils residing from the other side of the river, do not go to Kawale Primary School when it rained,” said Mkumbwa, who fought for the project in Parliament.
District Commissioner, Grace Chirwa assured the Minister of her office’s commitment to supervise the construction work so that the project completes within stipulated time.
Chief Mwaulambia thanked the Government for implementing development projects in his area, which he said promotes the wellbeing of his subjects.
The Chief then quickly warned his subjects against conniving with the contractor to abuse project materials, which he feared can compromise the quality of the bridge.