Malawi government’s lack of seriousness has forced the World Bank to delay the release of US$25 million [about K18 billion] for the rehabilitation of the Karonga-Songwe Border road project that was expected to commence this year, Nyasa Times can reveal.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila, had told parliament during its last sitting in November that government would be rehabilitating all border roads in the country, claiming there was readily available funding from the World Bank.
However, Nyasa Times understands that World Bank had set parameters as condition for the release of funds but government has failed to meet any them.
According to National Roads Authority (NRA) CEO Trevor Hiwa, World Bank asked government to compensate people who would be affected by the rehabilitation of the road as well as make sure that there were fewer roadblocks remaining on the route.
“The unavailability of money on part of government is the major challenge that is affecting the progress of the whole project,” Hiwa told Nyasa Times after inspecting the road.
Hiwa explained that the World Bank’s sole intention to fund the project was to speed up traffic on the route but unfortunately the road had too many check points.
“There are a total of eleven checkpoints from Karonga border to Mzuzu a thing that is against World Bank’s wants,” he said.
Hiwa recommended there was “need to reduce the checkpoints to win World Bank’s interest [to fund the project].”
He said all the needful, including the involving of a consultant had been done.
Hiwa said what was remaining was for government to “procure a contractor.”
Reacting to the development, Kasaila pledged government would secure a contractor as soon as possible so that work would commence in the most immediate future.
On compensation, Kasaila was mum. He only called on people who cultivate along the road “to stop soon after harvesting.”
He suggested that in the interim a contractor should be identified to fill the potholes that punctuate the road.
The Karonga-Songwe border road will be done alongside the construction of the ‘one border post’ to be funded by Dodoma and Lilongwe. The cost of how much the post will cost has not been established yet.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :