Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has engaged SMC Infrastructure Private Limited of India to carry out the works of tapping the water from Likhubula Water Source on Mulanje Mountain set to commence on September 1.
BWB chief executive officer (CEO) Henri Bakuwa disclosed that the designs of the contract allow for a 15 percent subcontracting locally and it is expected that the contractor will partner with local contractors and that some people within the surrounding districts will be employed.
President Peter Mutharika launched the K18 billion Likhubula Water Supply System project on November 7, 2016 which involves drawing water from Likhubula River all the way to Nguludi Turnoff in Chiradzulu where there will be a treatment plant.
The project finances were secured from the Indian Line of Credit through Exim Bank with a $23.5 million (about K18 billion) line of credit to finance it of which 15 percent will be from Blantyre Water Board.
BWB will then supply the water to Blantyre and surrounding districts such as Chiradzulu and parts of Thyolo. The water will also benefit people from the source, Mulanje.
It is expected that the new water source at Mulanje will provide an additional 20000m3 while the one along the Shire River will produce about 120,000m3 adding to an already existing capacity of 96,000m3 from Walkers Ferry which will improve efficiency of water supply as well as sustainability of supply as the above water sources are reliable perennial rivers.
However, Mulanje Water Project is facing opposition from community members under Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain (CPM)which has vowed to sabotage it, arguing that BWB did not honour an agreement to plant trees around the catchment area of Likhubula River
Bakuwa said there is no cause for panick as the board conducted enough sensitisation meetings with local leaders and the communities and that it is only a few overzealous people who want to stand in the way of the project.
He also disclosed BWB’s board approved a sum of K168 million to compensate affected people along the project line who would get the money through the district commissioners (DCs) of the affected districts before September 1 2017 to ensure that there is “accountability and transparency.”
According to Bakuwa, an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) conducted by Waste Water Management Consultants—environmental specialists the board recruited-details the nature of compensation to be paid.