Balaka South MP Mambala forced to divert cutoff road road through a nearby village’s maize field * Set to compensate affected households

Four families in Nkaya, Balaka South Constituency have accepted the request from their Member of Parliament, Ireen Mambala to destroy their crops on some parts of their gardens to create a diversion for road users travelling between Balaka Town and Utale Catholic Church Mission all the way to Shire North.

The road’s spot at Chipanga Village in Nkaya was cut off after the Rivi Rivi River diverted and crumbled the embankment, which originally was over half a kilometre away.

This was from the effects of the Tropical Cyclone Ana followed by continuous rains especially from upland, which has destroyed many crops, breached roads and bridges and left many households homeless.

MP Mambala doing her best to restore the important road

If the heavy rains continue to fall and the embankment further crumbles away, the nearby Chipanga Village risks being washed away and can also compromise the railway from Limbe to Balaka.

MP Mambala said she was relieved when the affected families accepted to have part of their garden on which they had planted maize, millet and pumpkins, saying their appreciation of the situation was very commendable.

“We had to do this because it affected many people’s business to Balaka, which is the business hub of our district,” she said during her break from the Parliament Chamber as the legislators continue to debate the National Budget that was presented on Friday.

“I am planning to compensate them by providing two bags of maize each family and K10,000 cash each. This is just a little I can afford but my message to them was that what they have done is worth far much more.”

She disclosed that she has already informed Minister of Transport verbally and in writing and will be followed by a personal meeting to explain the importance of the road, which includes people accessing health services at Balaka District Hospital as well as the Catholic Church Mission hospital at Utale.

Nkaya area development committee chairperson, Ajilu Pete negotiated with the families on behalf of the MP and said he was so relieved when they accepted as motorists are now able to pass through.

“Rivi Rivi needs to be diverted back to its course by, I think building dykes because if this continues the whole of Chipanga might one day go under, leaving people homeless.

“The trading centre at Mponda is also under jeopardy because there are not rocks to hold off the water on along the Rivi Rivi River banks,” he said.

In the past week, the Rivi Rivi keeps rising from rains that fell upland threatening further destruction of crops along its route to the Shire River.

In an earlier interview, MP Mambala took the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges her constituents face every year when it rains that result in most roads become impassable.

The detour through a maize field

She said the challenges are so huge such that the constituency development fund cannot sustain but needs special funding as  properly planned projects.

She also said the Rivi Rivi cuts through Utale — demarcated into Utale 1 and Utale 2 — and when it floods, school kids fail to attend classes year in and year out.

It also poses huge challenges for people to access social services in Utale 1 from the other side of the river such as the hospital, secondary school and the market during rainy season.

Mambala said there is urgent need to construct a bridge between Utale 1 and Utale 2 but the Constituency Development Fund cannot sustain such a project as the funds aren’t enough.

The Rivi Rivi is mostly an annual river but when it rains, it floods — thus rendering people on either side of Utale fail to connect each other for days on.

The families that were left homeless were not efficiently reached out to for relief food and non-food items due to the poor road network in the area.

Reports indicate that Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) only assisted only one area named Phimbi from the three — Nkaya, Nsamala and Mpilisi — that fall under area development committee.

The flood victims in the relief camps using churches and schools were being encouraged to go back to their homes — since not much assistance is being offered by concerned authorities and well-wishers.

MP Mambala managed to reach out to two camps with relief items from her own resources and said the families were only repatriating back home if their relations could afford to host them, taking cognizance that the spaces they were being accommodated in were too small.

She also World Vision distributed temporary sheets to Muluma evacuation center, adding that “most well-wishers are rushing to Nsanje and Chikwawa — leaving us behind.”

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