Malawi Communications & Regulatory Authority (MACRA), in conjunction with Blantyre City Council and Malawi Postal Service, has completed 90 percent of the pilot phase of national physical address mapping project for Blantyre City and its sorrounding rural area of Lirangwe.
This was disclosed on Friday during a media workshop held at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre in which they outlined how the project was carried out and the challenges they faced since its inception in 2008.
Once fully operational, the project will enhance service delivery in the posts and courier industry following the introduction of a comprehensive system of property location, numbering and mapping and associated processes.
MACRA’s Director of Postal Services Lizzie Nsusa said that despite the benefits in social-economic development that go together with having physical addresses, the majority of Malawians do not have formal addresses.
Therefore this project is there to address a comprehensive system of property location, numbering, mapping and other processes.
She said the National Addressing System is a multi-stakeholder driven national project that has components such as a national Postcode system; national addressing standards; national address database; physical infrastructure; geographical information system and public awareness.
She said the amended Communications Act of 2016 mandated MACRA to provide addresses and postalcodes for every location, to have street names, to have numbers for every house and to have physical addresses for each household.
“The majority of people were deprived of this facility which affected their lives when trying to access some important services like opening bank accounts, emergency services, buying things online and door to door delivery services, ” she said.
In his project brief, MACRA’s Burnet Namacha said the project started in 2008 with the help of an expert from Switzerland who came under the United Nations agency, the Universal Postal Union.
The pilot phase had selected areas such as low density area (Namiwawa), medium density (Chinyonga), high density (Ndirande Safarao), industrial (Makata and Ginnery Corner) and the rural area of Lirangwe where streets were given names and houses had numbers pasted on their gate entrances and on the front porch.
The next phase takes them to Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Zomba, Blantyre, Chitipa, Chikwawa and Ntchisi.
Namacha said each region and location shall have a postalcode and that shall be entered into a database which shall be accessed by service all service providers such as police, fire brigade, ambulances, Malawi Postal Service, door to door deliveries, banks and many other benefits.
Town Planning Director for Blantyre City Council Costly Chanza said the process of street naming was done in consultation with community leaders and other senior citizens of the areas and they used names of popular landmarks or notable citizens.
However, the biggest challenge they faced in erecting street signposts was vandalism and they resorted to using materials that cannot be recycled.
He said during the awareness campaign the public shall be sensitised not to vandalise these signposts.
Meanwhile, MACRA is currently doing sensitizations meetings in Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu where it plans to carry out the exercise before rolling out to the districts.