Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain (CPM) has maintained t hat they will still demand Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to fulfil their demands among others, to plant trees in a designated area where the water intake point is located or else they will block the implementation of the much awaited $23.5 million (about K18 billion) water supply project to tap water from Mulanje Mountain to Blantyre City and surrounding areas.
CPM has been threatening to block the project until BWB honours an agreement to plant trees.
David Majeweta, leader of the community members, told Times Radio that BWB should be tied to a memorandum of understanding that they will plant trees at Chambe Basin where the water will be tapped.
“We will obstruct the project if they will not respect our demands. We are ready to be arrested or even killed for this cause,” said tough talking Majeweta.
“If they will not fulfil our demands the contractor will see what former Minister George Chaponda saw when he came here. Even if government was to bring the army, we are not scared.” He was referring to the incident when the local people physically prevented the former minister from inspecting the water source.
But Group Village Headman Nakhonyo in the area where the project is taking place, said members of the community have embraced the project and are working with BWB in planting trees.
BWB has since assuredthe people that 70 000 special pine seedling are expected to be planted at Chambe Basin starting from January next year.
Project team leader Stainely Bakolo also said they will look into the aspects of social responsibility because it is obliged as a company to do something about it.
Bakolo said they are currently constructing the offices for the project which will take “about a month before we embark in major construction works.”
Recently, the project got a $23.5 million (around K18 billion) line of credit (LoC) from Exim Bank of India as part of its financing.
The LoC was authorised by Parliament in 2016 after Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe tabled a Loan Authorisation Bill.
BWB is seeking an alternative source of water in Mulanje to complement its long existing Walker’s Ferry on Shire River, which has been facing challenges, including siltation, leading to water supply challenges to the growing population in the commercial capital.
According to Bakolo, the project is withing schedule and expected to end by April 30 2019.
India-based SMC Infrastructure Private Limited will undertake works and once completed, 20 million litres of water per day are expected to be brought from Mulanje and the water will be channeled into a treatment plant at Nguludi in Chiradzulu through gravitation.
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, according to the project report.
The projecr is expected to benefit people from Blantyre and surrounding districts, including Chiradzulu and Thyolo, apart from Mulanje residents.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :