By Nenenji Mlangeni
Communities around Six Miles in Lilongwe are demanding answers from authorities for constructing a road that only passes and immediately ends at a construction site where First Lady Gertrude Mutharika is constructing a villa.
Lilongwe City Council (LCC) spokesperson Tamara Chafunya confirmed to the Nation Newspaper that the council is constructing the 1.3 kilometre road, which emerges from the Bunda Road into a swathe of villages at a cost of MK606 563 475 but could not respond to queries about the connection to the First Lady’s villa project.
Community members are, however, asking why the road which ends just at Mutharika’s housing project does not reach the dumpsite and expressed their disgust, saying the project smacks of favoritism.
Two residents of the community, also known as Area 38, Kondwani Khembo and Mphatso Lekeleni stressed that authorities need to come out clear on the plans for the road.
Said Lekeleni: “From what we are hearing, the road is not going far and we are not sure if there are plans to have it extended. Many people are asking questions but there is no one to provide us with answers, so we are suspicious.”
But LCC has further dismissed fears of a possible political influence, describing the two projects as unrelated and a mere coincidence.
Chairperson of Public Works Committee at LCC, Sean William Ngulube confirmed in an interview that his committee approved the project, adding that in the meantime the new road will help to improve mobility of garbage vehicles to the dumpsite.
He said: “As a council we have always wanted to upgrade the road because during the rainy season our garbage collection vehicles fail to reach the dump site and get stuck in the mud.”
He also said when the council has sourced more funds, it will in the near future, extend the road to Area 24, some three kilometres further.
Asked why the road project was prioritised when there are many other roads within the city that need urgent attention, Ngulube said funding was the main constraint.
He, for instance, indicated that the council was planning to construct a three-kilometre road from the T-junction after Kamuzu Institute of Sports, going into Chilinde up to Area 23, at a cost of MK1.4 billion, but the council only has MK400 million at the moment and so the plans have been shelved even after a contractor was already identified.
State House, while confirming that the said house project belongs to Madam Mutharika, described as unfortunate attempts to drag the First Lady into a decision that LCC made.
In a WhatsApp response, State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani also claimed that the road will serve thousands of residents in and around the area.
“The First Lady has nothing to do with Lilongwe City Council’s decision to construct a road passing near her plot to the city council’s dumpsite. Unless we want to suggest that the dumpsite should not have a proper access road to it, and that residents around the area do not deserve a better road,” said Kalilani.
Spokesperson for Roads Fund Administration (RFA) Masauko Ngwaluko, in an e-mailed response, indicated that the institution’s role is to finance Special City Roads Rehabilitation Programme, which is currently in the second year in the cities of Blantyre, Zomba, Mzuzu and Lilongwe.
“We do not have any role on the selection of road projects as this is the city’s mandate.
According to our findings, the road project—being constructed by Dika Construction—commenced on June 11 2018 and is expected to be completed by November 11 2018.