Four delegates from Malawi’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development led by Minister Sidik Mia are in Mozambique to discuss with authorities of the most strategic country in the entire Nsanje world inland Port which has been unused since it was launched in October 2011.
This is the 11th of joint technical meeting on Shire Zambezi waterway project between the countries involved and has been facilitated by the regional trade block, Comesa.
Transport Minister Mia confirmed the development but refused to shed more light until he comes back from the meeting.
The Malawian inland port entails linking to Mozambican ports on the Indian Ocean through the Shire and Zambezi rivers. But the Mozambique government has demanded an inclusive feasibility study on the navigability of the Zambezi and shire waterway before they can buy into the project.
The Shire River borders Malawi and Mozambique to the south and flows into the Zambezi River before feeding into the Indian Ocean via Chinde port in Mozambique. The Malawian inland port which is funded by the Africa Development Bank, World Bank, European Union and the Japanese government is about 238 km from Chinde.
President Bingu wa Mutharika sees the Shire-Zambezi waterway as a key route for Malawian trade and expressed hopes that it would also serve countries in the region.
Malawi has already completed the first phase of the construction of the port of Nsanje, which is being undertaken by Portuguese contractor Mota Engil. Traders have moved into the area around the port, buying up land to set up businesses. The proposed developments include warehouses, office blocks, houses and hotels.
The government says Malawi may save $175m of its total annual import bill when the new port becomes fully operational. The government hopes that the reduced transport costs will facilitate increased production of agricultural crops such as maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and rice.
Malawi’s transport ministry senior bureaucrat, Victor Lungu, who is part of the delegation to Mozambique remain optimistic that a solution to the standoff is within reach.