MAPUTO-(MaraviPost)- The Mozambique Government has withdrawn from the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Malawi and Zambia on the much-touted Shire-Zambezi Waterway Project. This follows the study that highlights the initiative as not commercially navigable in its natural state.
According to Reuters, Mozambique’s withdrawal from the MOU is effective June, 2017 after a study done by an international consultancy firm, Hydroplan found the project not economically viable.
Maputo made the announcement on the project last week at press briefing held in that country on the future of the initiative.
News reports quoted senior Zambian Transport Ministry official Jafar Ruby, who said that the project was neither viable nor sustainable in the short, medium, and long-term.
Dubbed as Nsanje World In-Land Port, which the Malawi Government launched in October 2010, after it spent US$ 3.9 billion for its construction; but now the infrastructure has turned into a bush, and it will be unattainable dream.
Despite reports of the Mozambique withdrawal, Malawi Government insists that the project is viable, and has allocated funds to the project in the current 2017/2018 national budget.
Malawi Minister of Transport Jappie Mhango, remains adamant on the project, arguing that it is viable, and that Maputo has not officially notified Lilongwe of the MOU withdrawal.
“Mozambique did not withdraw from the MOU. Earlier, there was a meeting here, where three presidents met, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, Zambia President Edgar Lungu, and our own President (Peter Mutharika). The beauty of it is that we have a ministerial meeting this month, on resolutions slated for Lilongwe,” Mhango said.
The development has however, raised eyebrows among his fellow lawmakers who argue that continued funding to the project, was a leeway to siphoning of public funds for political reasons.
Chairperson for the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, Rhino Chiphiko, described as irregular for the Mutharika Administration to continue allocating funds on a project, which is not viable.
“Government knew that the project is not viable, more especially with the coming in of railway transport, which has a capacity of five million tons of extra cargo, rather than just coal, which the country can use more economically.
“This is a scam for Government to be stealing money. We don’t have economies of scale. We don’t have enough cargo to spend a lot of money for actually make that route economically feasible and viable. Even the cost of dredging every time there will be siltation, is very expensive,” challenged Chiphiko.