Mozambicans making a fortune on Malawi’s power, water

While Malawians are reeling in one of the worst ever socio-economic downturns, with persistent blackouts and dry water taps some Mozambicans in the Western Province of Tete are reportedly being smiled on by fortune for flocking for seeking some services in Malawi.

Reports say Mozambican farmers particularly in the impoverished locality of Vila Nova da Fronteira, in Mutarara district, depend on Malawi’s border district of Mwanza for some essential services in their lives such as flour mills and water.

According to a report in the Beira daily newspaper, Diario de Mocambique, published on March 8, 2012, the people cross to Malawi to mill their maize and sorghum and fetch water because their locality has no electrical flour mills and enough water pumps.

A crossroads sign marks the way from Beira to the border of Malawi.

The paper quotes Francisco Wiliam, head of the locality, saying the only flour mills available in their area are manual so people prefer using electric mills in Malawi, which turn their grain into better flour and much faster.

Wiliam says due to lack of these essential commodities, most of the 18,000 or so residents who live in Vila Nova da Fronteira make trips to Mwanza every day using bicycle taxis .

The paper reports that the bicycle operators generate income of about 5,000 Malawian Kwachas (about 30 US dollars) a day from their transport business to and from Malawi.

“The women mill maize and sorghum in Malawi because we have no electric mills here”, William is quoted by the paper. “They also fetch water from there for domestic consumption because we don’t have enough pumps to supply the entire population”.

“Life would be made easier if we were connected to electricity,” Wiliam added. “Then we wouldn’t have to go into Malawi”.

Technically, crossing the border in this way is illegal, but the police take no action to stop it as confirmed by Abdul Bonomar, the deputy commander of the Frontier Guard company stationed at Vila Nova da Fronteira, who described the matter as not serious.

“Our work is going on well, the border violations are simple, citizens leave one country and enter the other to buy salt, or go to the hospital or to the flour mills. There’s no danger in this,” he said.

A few weeks ago, the Mozambican government ordered Malawi’s Electricity Supply Corporation (ESCOM) to uproot their electricity poles which were wrongly erected some meters into its soil in Mwanza district.

For about two years now, the relationship between Mozambique and Malawi has not been smooth after the later went ahead with construction of its Nsanje Inland Port (Shire-Zambezi Waterway) without carrying out a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

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