Karonga-Chitipa road delayed by one more year

Malawian authorities have conceded that people in northern districts of Karonga and Chitipa will have to wait a little longer before they can start taking pleasure in smooth travel between them.

This follows fresh revelations that the 106kms long Karonga-Chitipa Road which government reported that it would be ready for usage next month, December, will not be completed as planned.

This is the second time completion period had been extended by the contractor. First government told Malawians, particularly the enthusiastic citizens of the two districts that the long awaited road would be ready by mid 2011.

Construction at work on Karonga-ChitipaRoad

Malawi’s Roads Authority (RA) Public Relations Officer Portia Kajanga said the further delay in completion of the highway had been as a result of fuel shortage that has hit the country and has not spared Karonga where the contractors’ base is.

“We will not be completing this year as was earlier planned. Instead we have set 31st October 2012 as the date when we think all works will have been completed,” said Kajanga.

“The main challenge has been fuel. When you are working with such type of big machinery with huge engine capacities you need thousands of litres of fuel to run them and we cannot cope with the current fuel situation,” she added.

China has pumped about US$70 million, which is around 10 billion Malawi Kwacha for the road project which is being constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

Since the start of fuel crisis, Kajanga said, there has been slow progress on the project but was hopeful that come October 2012, mobility problems for the people of Karonga and Chitipa will be history.

The publicist said so far about 77 percent of the whole project had been completed with all the 12 bridges ready.

Once completed, people in the two districts will ululate and celebrate because all the country’s three governments have been promising the road but never fulfilled their pledge.

The 106km long road connects Karonga Boma with Chitipa Boma and passes through Kayelekera Mines Turn-Off, Wiliro and Tondola Trading Centers. It then proceeds to Kamyala Boarder Post in Zambia.

The road is greatly expected to improve economic activities of the people, particularly farmers who will easily access markets in the two districts. It will also boost cross border trade between Malawi and Zambia.

In the past, a drive between Karonga and Chitipa used to take more than five hours but upon completion of the road, motorists will only take an hour and some minutes.

China took over construction of the road from Taiwan in 2008 after Malawi dumped the Taipei Government for China.

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