Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday wrapped up his two-day tour of duty in Malawi with a landmark inauguration of a multinational road project in the capital Lilongwe.
Since his arrival on Wednesday, President Kibaki undertook a number of tasks including holding a bilateral talk with his Malawian counterpart Joyce Banda.
And on Thursday, just few hours before he flew out to Kenya, the visiting president laid a foundation stone for the Lilongwe West By-pass road project which is being funded by the African Development Bank (ADB).
The by-pass road is part of the multinational Nacara Road Corridor Project that will benefit Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
The by-pass will connect the country’s main road (M1) on the Blantyre-Lilongwe road and the Lilongwe-Mchinji road.
Speaking after laying the foundation stone, the Kenyan leader observed that President Banda’s decision to invest in road infrastructure will go a long way in transforming the country’s economy.
He urged the government to continue placing infrastructure development because it is a strategic aspect in trade reforms for any country.
“Infrastructure upgrade and expansion are the center of business reforms. This is because infrastructure acts as a key enabler of socio-economic development in any country,” said Kibaki.
The Kenyan president observed that the construction of the road will not only divert transit traffic from the city centre but also significantly reduce travel times and increase movements within it.
“This road will also improve the country’s competitiveness in export market as it is destined to contribute to the reduction of the overall costs of doing business,” noted the 81-year-old leader who will be leaving office in two months time after serving for 10 years.
Turning to Malawian traders, Kibaki encouraged them to take advantage of the new road network to explore extra business ventures within and beyond its immediate environs.
“In addition to the advantages, the by-pass will also benefit other neighbouring countries such as Zambia thus promoting intra Africa trade integration.
“This is in line with the objectives of the COMESA [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] master plan for infrastructure development where member countries have committed themselves to developing closer partnerships in implementation of economic corridors which will eventually reduce the cost of cross border trade,” he explained.
Kibaki said it was his expectation that the increased inter state trade within the COMESA bloc would create employment and contribute to poverty reduction.
In her speech, President Banda said the road, to be constructed by SADC regional network standards, would lead to improved mobility, generate more development in the area as well as create employment among many Malawians.
“Today’s function goes a long way in the realization of the development priorities my government set in 2012 when I took over.
“The construction of this new road is one of the excellent examples of my government’s commitment to improving the socio economic well being of Malawians by providing improved mobility, access and connectivity for our nation’s socio economic development,” President Banda said.
She said the by-pass will enable traffic going to Zambia and Mozambique pass through Lilongwe without disturbing local traffic while the domestic traffic going to the north and south of Malawi will also ably pass through the city with minimal delays.
Banda, however, urged those residing along the corridor to cooperate with the contractors to ensure that work is completed in time.
“No one should develop or cultivate in the road reserve… Compensation was paid for a road corridor of six to 10 meters implying that all land within this corridor has been reserved for future expansion,” she warned.
President Banda then pledged that her government would ensure implementation of the project does not suffer serious challenges that would negatively affect its progress.
While in the country, the Kenyan president also laid wreath at the mausoleum of Malawi’s founding president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, held a high-level discussion with the business community and also met Kenyans living in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :