MACRA bemoans vandalism of National Addressing System infrastructure

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has bemoaned increasing incidences of vandalism of National Addressing System (NAS) infrastructure, saying such acts cost the authority a lot of money and retrogress the country.

The authority has, therefore, stated that it is taking advantage of the ongoing review of the Communications Act of 2016 to propose stiffer penalties for people found guilty of vandalizing NAS infrastructure.

MACRA Director General, Daud Suleman, made the sentiments in Lilongwe when he updated journalists on the progress of the NAS project.

MACRA is mandated by the Communications Act to lead the implementation of the multi-stakeholder driven NAS project, which ensures mapping, naming of streets, roads and big buildings and numbering of houses.

According to the authority, all streets, roads and properties in the Northern Region have so far been named and numbered. That is in addition to some places in central and southern regions, where NAS project was piloted.

However, Suleman expressed concern that there is growing vandalism of infrastructure such as poles and signposts, saying the situation is retrogressing the country.

“The installed infrastructure is for the nation and is aimed at facilitating development and building of the digital economy. The nation must treat NAS infrastructure as critical.

“The review of the Communications Act is now in progress by a relevant taskforce. We are proposing that NAS must be incorporated into the act and that there are provisions dealing with people vandalizing NAS infrastructure. There must be stiffer penalties”.

But Suleman said the project is a success despite vandalism, among other challenges.

“For the Northern Region, we are currently finalizing procurement and delivery of infrastructure assets that will be erected in all the districts. By mid July, the region will be completely under NAS, physically and digitally.

“We are currently engaging central and southern region local authorities. We are pushing that by the end of the next financial year, all districts in Malawi must have physical infrastructure installed”.

NAS has the following components: addressing standards, national postcodes system, national address database, physical infrastructure, geographic information system (GIS) support for the addressing database and public awareness and sensitization.

Among other benefits, NAS will improve billing processes for utility bills leading to increased revenue availability to expand services, enhance tourism and effective response to emergency situations.

The project, pegged at US$25 million (about MK25 billion), is being implemented in phases since five years ago, with funding from Universal Service Fund and MACRA.

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