Mulanje Magistrate Court has released on bail 15 suspects, including five women, arested on charges related to a fracas that ensued over Blantyre Water Board (BWB) Likhubula Water Supply System project.
BWB is working on a project that seeks to tap water from Mulanje Mountain to Blantyre City and surrounding areas.
The suspects, operating under Citizens for Protection of Mulanje Mountain and led by David Majeweta, have been resisting the BWB project since August last year and continue to block the implementation of the project despite a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between BWB and Mulanje residents to facilitate the project.
Group leaders Ivory Kaliati and one Majewere were charged with inciting violence contrary to Section 87 of the Penal Code while the other suspects were charged with rioting.
But the court on Monday released the suspects on bail with K20 000 bond each.
Last month, BWB embarked on the K18 billion Likhubula Water Supply Project which seeks to tap water from Mulanje Mountain which will ease water shortages in Blantyre and surrounding districts.
President Peter Mutharika launched the 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 members of the community blocked the then Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda when he wanted to visit the water source, arguing that government should first reafforest 3 500 hectares where trees were destroyed.
The residents also wanted government to assure them that they will benefit from the project.
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.
The time frame for the project is 18 months.
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.
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