Karonga residents meet VP over Paladin, Municipality

Representatives of the Karonga Business Community on Thursday met Malawi’s Vice President Khumbo Kachali and four other ministers at Capital Hill in Lilongwe to press for the change of status of Karonga to Municipality saying the district’s economic boom should not be ignored.

The delegation led by Chairperson Wavisanga Silungwe also vented their displeasure at the lack of business opportunities for locals from Paladin Energy Limited, parent company of Kayelekera Uranium Mine.

Apart from Kachali, the group also met Finance Minister Ken Lipenga, Energy Minister Cassim Chilumpha, Industry and Trade Minister John Bande and Economic Planning and development Minister Atupele Muluzi.

Silungwe argued in a four paged speech, a copy Nyasa Timesobtained, that Karonga is the fastest and most developed district in the country.

Khumbo Kachali met Karonga community

“It’s the only district where you can find almost all commercial banks such as National Bank, Inde Bank, Standard Bank, First Merchant, NBS, FDH, MSB and OIBM. Some of these banks are not in Mzuzu. In the world of economics that means quite a lot,” Silungwe claimed.

He said the other reason for transformation is that the district is experiencing tremendous infrastructure development and a surge in population due to its attractive economic activities.

“This drives us to ask your noble government to consider changing the status of Karonga from a District to a Municipality. This if done, it will help Karonga Business Community to acquire big loans from the banks thereby boost our businesses and create employment and in return reduce poverty,” Silungwe pleaded.

 Keyelekera concerns

He also said Karonga has established a well-organized small scale and medium enterprises that could supply various goods and services to Kayelekera Uranium Mine if given a chance.

“It is disappointing to note that most foodstuffs needed at Kayelekera are abundant in Karonga and Malawi but surprisingly Paladin airlifts these items from Namibia. Similarly, Malawian transporters have the  potential to  supply and transport lime ,sulphur and any other item needed at Kayelekera Mine but Paladin gives these contracts to foreign internationals,” Silungwe claimed.

He also claimed that Paladin has backtracked on the various promises it made to the people of Karonga.

“Ironically no one seems interested to talk about them, please help us. It’s very painful if local businesses can not benefit from such a huge mine after investing quite a lot in readiness thereof,” Silungwe said.

But Paladin says it has kept its promises.

“There are no promises made by Paladin which have not been fulfilled,” Paladin Energy Limited General Manager-International Affair Greg Walker said in an email response.

Walker said there was nothing new on the issues the Karonga Business Community raised adding that the matters he raised have been dealt with before.

“Specifically we do buy food from local vendors. We do advertise tenders (including food).  Malawi is unable to supply sulphur and lime (we have investigated this option) and there are no promises made by Paladin which have not been fulfilled,” Walker said.

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