MACRA donates K50m towards DoDMA’s relief response to Cyclone Freddy survivors

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has set up Emergency Operating Centre at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre which will be coordinating communication efforts to mitigate effects of the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy.

This was disclosed on Thursday when the communications regulator donated K50 million to the Department of Disaster Management (DoDMA) at the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouses in Limbe.

MACRA Director General, Daudi Suleman also announced that after engaging with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the global regulator has since donated 25 satellite radios which DoDMA will be using in coordinating rescue operations.

This is taking cognizance that there are many people who are still missing after the flash floods that accompanied the Cyclone Freddy, which has since dissipated on Wednesday, March 15 — after almost five days of torrential rains in Southern Region.

The death toll has since reached over 326, with over 90,000 people displaced — as announced by DoDMA at the cheque presentation.

Suleman also said the yet to roll out mobile service provider, Starlink Lilongwe Limited — a company owned by SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, United States of America a company owned by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, USA — has also provided 50 satellite units to be used for the satellite phones.

In October last year, MACRA granted its first-ever high-speed low latency broadband satellite internet service licenses to Starlink.

Suleman was accompanied by MACRA Board chairperson, Dr. Stanley Khaila, who emphasized that they just had to intervene to mitigate the devastating effects that the cyclone has left behind.

“This disaster surpasses all,” he said. “The first flash flood disaster the country faced was that in Phalombe many years ago, which at that time was unprecedented.

“Then came Cyclone Ana, which surpassed the Phalombe disaster. But Cyclone Freddy was the most tragic as it affected many districts in the Southern Region [Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe and Zomba City].

“Many lives have been lost, many people have been injured and thousands displaced. Rural roads and bridges have been destroyed — rendering communication greatly challenged, thus MACRA coming in to set up Emergency Operating Centre.”

He thus asked DoDMA to be very accountable of the assistance that is being rendered by various stakeholders and development partners, saying so many lives of the survivors are depending on the government to relieve them of the trauma they went through.

While wishing the survivors courage and God’s blessings, Khaila applauded DoDMA for its preparedness as warnings for the impending Cyclone Freddy were ably disseminated but its actual force and effects were just unprecedented.

In his vote of thanks, DoDMA Director, Rev. Moses Chimphepo assured that the funds received would be used to procure relief food and other supplies of immediate needs and he applauded MACRA for facilitating the Emergency Operating Centre and the provision of the satellite phones for its rescue operations.

He assured that they are compiling data to conclude with a full assessment report to set up a full recovery mode going forward since the survivors need to be assisted further to pick up their livelihood.

Rev. Chimphepo also attested that Freddy was more devastating than the Cyclone Ana, saying as of Thursday, they have recovered three dead bodies at the epicenter of disaster in Chilobwe Township.

According to a report by international media house, Sunday Morning Herald — that was published on Monday, March 13 — described Cyclone Freddy as “the most relentless tropical cyclone ever observed”.

It became the longest-lived tropical cyclone ever recorded and “now it has shattered the record for the planet’s most energetic storm”, said the report.

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