Good road networks key to socio-economic development

The socio-economic development and subsequent economic growth of any nation is strongly linked to its transport infrastructure. Lack of adequate transport systems is one of the major factors hampering development in Malawi and the entire African continent. This problem is most felt in the rural areas.

Damaged Karonga-Chitipa road

Damaged Karonga-Chitipa road

It is good to highlight that the DPP led government has prioritized infrastructure development as key in its development agenda for the country. I am also pleased to see that the DPP government has pledged to construct new and comprehensive network of rural access roads and trunk roads to serve the remote agricultural areas so that produce can reach the urban markets safety and efficiently.

Speaking after unveiling a groundbreaking ceremony at Mhuju in Rumphi on Saturday, March 21, 2015 President Peter Mutharika said his government will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to fulfill its promises to Malawi.

“The construction of this road will mark yet another milestone in the development of the country, and Rumphi district in particular,” said Mutharika of the road project that the Democratic Progressive Party pledged in its manifestos in last year’s polls.

As a rural development specialist myself, I commend this development principally seeing that the DPP government is walking the talk and endeavoring achieving its campaign promises. The need for road networks and infrastructure cannot be overemphasized. Rural people can effectively drive the socio-economic development of the country and feel more included in national level interventions, but they are being hindered by limited access to good road networks connecting them to the larger society.

The level and quality of transportation systems in any area are of crucial significance in influencing political, economic and social progress, and these must be considered at every stage of local, national and regional development planning.

Without good roads, it is difficult to have socially inclusive development interventions. In Malawi, the rural roads infrastructure is a specific area of concern, imposing significant limitations on growth and development of rural communities.

While community members in Malawi always exhibit great zeal and commitment, the poor road networks in their areas have proved to be a major setback to their progress. Improved road networks bring many benefits for local communities. These include improved accessibility to social infrastructure (schools, churches and health centres), increased access to education and health facilities and improved social interaction and mobility. These are important for social and economic development, improved access to markets through the reduction of transport costs and improvement of the marketability of perishable goods through timely and cheaper transportation.

On the supply side, direct benefits of improved road networks include reduced vehicle operating costs, savings in travel time, reduced accident costs resulting from the upgrade of the proposed roads, possible savings in road maintenance costs (because roads are bound to withstand harsh weather if they are well-maintained).

If again we have to take the Mhuju road as a case study of how a road can transform a community, the road splits the Henga Valley—an agricultural hinterland for tobacco, maize and coffee–on the way to Livingstonia and descends the treacherously mountainous terrain through Golodi Road, a narrow winding road built in 1906 by the early missionaries. It also leads to Kaziwiziwi Coal Mine on Phoka Hills.

The road will open up the CCAP’s historic mission station at Khondowe Plateau, a stunning tourist attraction which is home to Livingstonia University, Gordon Memorial Hospital and legendary Scottish missionary Robert Laws’ iconic stone house.

Considering all these facts, transport infrastructure should be accorded priority in the catalogue of development projects by the government in order to transform the living conditions of the rural people.

Lastly, all I could say is bravo DPP, bravo APM, your government is on the right track.

  • Tadala Mwale  is a Rural Development Specialist
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16 thoughts on “Good road networks key to socio-economic development”

  1. matako says:

    These stupid DPP idiots have been told again and again about what sustainable development is all about How can the president peddle this stupid compendium without understanding that in order to attract investors government must get its house in order. Infrastructure is paramount to any development particularly in attracting investors. We have roads that are in very poor condition. Electricity that is intermittent and unreliable, water that is becoming an issue in our cities and security that would make any investor clinch! How can we say welcome to Malawi we are open for business? This administration is too busy trying to brand the Munthalika clan instead of doing something about the state of our infrastructure and economy. I am beginning to believe what Ntata is saying the DPP administration is too busy trying to consolidate more power while machinizing a way to steal from Malawians. That’s why they can not investigate the swindled MK92 billion

  2. Rene A Rose says:

    Can not over emphasize the importance of basic infrastructural projects and the opening of opportunities to empower the people through free enterprise , creativity , and hard honest work to provide for their families , strengthening communities, by the enabling them to develop their full potential. The sky is the limit . Bravo !

  3. phiri la dzunje says:

    tatopa ndi zinthu za china zosalimba ndi misewu yomwe kusalimba bolanso chitenje cha Zambia chingalimbe no vission at all dziko lomvetsa chisoni kwambiri

  4. Mpoto says:

    This is a good article just well written. I think there are a number of things we need to consider when looking at development of a good road network.
    i. A good road network needs to be planned to answer future needs. Today, at the point when the president dreams to have a party public rally, he calls upon his minister to organize one and make an appeasement statement. With such a move, it becomes very difficult to construct a standard road as you rush the roads through to meet the promises made. Good work cannot be achieved.
    ii. If the villages are not well planned, its very difficult to come up with a formidable road network. We need to start the process of villagisation so that people can be brought together to meet the local challenges that face them.
    iii. We need to ensure that we produce a lot to keep our roads busy and as the situation is today, i don’t think we can have our roads put to the optimum use.

    Now, whats that we need to do on our roads?
    i. Build a North-South motorway with a three-lane drive, entrant and exit junctions, broad shoulder and conservatory sideways.
    ii. We need to to build East-West roads which can be dual carriage ways or just standard roads.
    iii. We need to give them names.

    We have a lot of money the government collects through taxes, duties and fees. In the last budget 2014-15 the minister of finance promised to complete the Chipembere high way, complete the by-pass in Lilongwe, and build the Luwinga-Katoto highway. If you go there, no work is on the ground yet we will receive report during the next budget sitting that MK15 bn has been used for planning whilst actual amount needed in planning is MK5 million. That is why we need to change our governance system, that’s why we need federal government. To hell with these greedy people. WE NEED CHANGE!

  5. Paulos Banda says:

    Good article but what you have forgotten or missed to talk about is quality. In the past 15 years we have seen a lot of roads being constructed but my worry is the finished product. I do not know whether the problem is with Mota Engil or our supervising engineers. I have mentioned Mota Engil because all major roads projects have been handled by Mota Engil. Can Roads Authority and Malaw Institute of Engineers school me on this. Who is really problem?

    Let me list the works done by Mota Engil which I have problem with.

    1. Midima Road
    2. Mphalombe-Chilinga Road.
    3. Lilongwe-Nsipe
    4. Lilongwe west by past, the surface not smooth.
    5. Malomo via Nkhuvi-Nkhota-kota road.
    6. Goliati road, glad there is no heavy traffic.

    What we need a Malawi is good quality roads not quantity at our expense. Minister Kasaila I told you are an Engineer please help Malawi to save money from this company so called Mota Engil. You can still give them works but please put checklist on quality.

    I really miss these companies and I wish they come back but I know they can not due to corruption we have in Malawi.

    1. Kiar International
    2. Wade Adams
    3. Alstad
    MIE can you discuss this at your annual gathering this year. Love your country please.

  6. dembere says:

    Comment misewu yosalimba, chitipa karonga msewu watsopano.

  7. Hebdo says:

    If you ask me, rumphi-nyika road should have come first

  8. chikoya says:

    Ngati peter angathedi this road, atenga rumphi yonse mu 2019. tawonga nadi. Linia alumni. olo chihana, mp and kamlepo game ayiwoneretu patali pamenepa.

  9. Kenkkk says:

    Totally agree with the article. What i would add is that these projects need to be finished within their time scale, funds earmarked for these projects should not be diverted elsewhere. Once completed, a proper maintenance regime should be followed otherwise we will end up with the same crumbling kamuzu roads that each succesive govts have failed to maintain. Building is one thing, maintaining is another.

  10. ujeni says:

    Right track? yet it was only a symbolic occassion. Dont just construct roads, but construct durable, wide modern roads. So far major roads in Malawi look like a path going to a village house

  11. Dpp led government,chirichonse osangoti government bwanji za ziiii.

  12. Zanga pheee!! says:

    No Comment

  13. mwiithotho says:

    CHONDE, INU APM, mungoubweretsa mseu umenewu down. Leave these Atumbuka to pursue their FEDERALISM or WHATEVER

    1. Kenkkk says:

      This has nothing to do with the federalism issue, mwithotho. Just shows your ignorance on the matter. Even if the whole country had equal development, still the federalism issue would be espoused by some groups. Federalism is not only about development.

    2. bwangazi says:

      Mwiithotho pa nyo pako!!!!

    3. chikoya says:

      zitukukozi ndi result yoopa fede kumene. koma tikafika 2019 opanda ntchito yochitika, chakwera wil take over. peter knows for sure kuti ikadutsa yoti prezdent azipeza more than 50% votes, sangawine with south votes olo atupele atasiya kuima. enanu u dont know peter’s strategy. but do stng to complete lumbazi dowa chezi road.

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