Malawi hosting SADC Ministers meeting this week

Malawi will from Monday October 30 to November 3 play host to the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) ministers meeting responsible for transport and meteorology in the country’s administrative capital Lilongwe.

Mhango: Malawi hosts Sac meeting

The ministers meeting will be curtain-raised by various committee meetings by senior officials of the transport and meteorology departments of the 12 member grouping.

“From its inception in 1980, SADC was envisaged and it is, in reality, promoting regional integration in support of economic growth and development. The formulated SADC policies and strategies are all aimed at creating a larger market and greater economic opportunities for the member states,” aaid Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mtuwa Mhango, at a news conferecne in Lilongwe on Friday.

Mhango said the upcoming meeting has been organized to review progress on implementation of ministerial decisions from previous meetings of the committee, review progress on development and implementation of harmonized policy and regulatory frameworks and review progress on the development and implementation of programmes and projects that are of regional importance in the two sectors.

The committee of ministers for transport and meteorology has been meeting annually from 2016 and the different member states have hosted the meeting on rotational basis.  Malawi hosts the meeting for the first time after the last one which was held in Swaziland last year.

Mhango further said Malawi has been implementing a number of projects that are contributing to regional integration objectives including the construction of the Lilongwe West Bypass road, the Liwonde-Mangochi road, the Nsipe-Chingeni road, one stop border posts, all under the Nacala Corridor Project.

Other key projects that have received support from SADC also include feasibility studies on the Sena Railway line, the Karonga-Songwe road under the North South Corridor, the Bwengu Chiweta Road with support from the World Bank, the Moatze- Nacala Railway line and the Shire-Zambezi Waterway project.
The minister said the stalled Shire-Zambezi Waterway initiative may take centre stage during the ministers meeting adding that SADC, including other multilateral institutions and partner countries, Mozambique and Zambia have had a lot of goodwill for the project.

He decried the state of shipping on Lake Malawi saying, however, that government and its major investor in the sector, Mota-Engil, are working towards improving the state of affairs at Chipoka, Likoma, Nkhata-Bay and Chilumba ports.

In a related interview during the official inauguration of the Moatze to Nacala railway line passing through Malawi in August, Minister of Transport and Communications of Mozambique, Carlos Mesquita projected a deem view on the prospects of the realization of the Shire-Zambezi Waterway project after Malawi has offered passage through its territory of commodities from hinterland Mozambique to the Indian Ocean Port of Nacala.

He said in as much as the objective of opening up the waterway to navigation is to reduce transport costs, the consultant who carried out the feasibility studies regarding the project did not highlight some aspects of the initiative.

“The consultant that was working on this project could not come up with some indicators, financial and economic indicators that would sustain the project,” Mesquita said.

Other indicators he claimed include regular dredging and removal of weeds along the waterway.

On his part regarding the upcoming meeting, Direcctor of Transport Planning in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, John Phiri, said the Meteorology component of the meeting is crucial considering that the design of transport infrastructure also largely depends on weather patterns.

“Even before you construct an airport, you need weather experts to ascertain the viability of the investment in terms of wind direction and other climate factors. The resilience of transport infrastructure including roads depends on the determination of the meteorological department ,” Phiri said.
Phiri also gave a brief insight of the Mtwara corridor and its relation to the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay road.

Some of the key issues affecting Malawi that the ministers will discuss include resolving significant safety concerns for the country’s aviation sector, improvement of transport corridors and finalization and signing of a memorandum of understanding setting up the secretariats for the Beira and North South Corridors.

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