Ndirande Malabada constituents perceive MP Mkumba of negligence for collapse of the area’s main access road

Concerned citizens of Ndirande Malabada Constituency have petitioned their Member of Parliament Ishmael Mkumba accusing him of negligence over the collapse of the area’s main and busiest access tarmac road from Chimseu trading centre to the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) residential neighbourhood, commonly known as Malaysia.

The concerned citizens, led by R. Mwangame as chairperson and E. Phiri as secretary, say they have noted that the community is “being taken for granted by people in power when it comes to addressing the major issues affecting our daily living”.

“We also have noted that despite reporting our grievances on numerous occasions none of them is taken seriously by the people responsible,” said the petition to the MP and copied to Blantyre City Council; Traditional Authority (T/A) Kapeni; Group Village Headman (GVH) Makata and Councillors of Ndirande Malabada Constituency signed for on March 15.

The state of road at Chimseu

“We have received an overwhelming number of complaints from our community members, all expressing dissatisfaction over the service delivery as compared to other constituencies,” they said.

Thus their decision to write the petition as well as launching an inquiry into two pressing issues affecting their daily livelihood — the poor road condition and the community development fund (CDF).

They emphasized that the stretch of the road from Chinseu to Malaysia is the busiest and keeps collapsing year in and year out and “for quite a long time, it has not been maintained”.

“The presence of potholes alone is enough evidence of negligence on the part of the people responsible for maintaining our roads. This stretch of the road has been known to have several potholes and has been reported multiple times for damaging cars and causing injury.

“Yet no attempts have been made to fix it! The people responsible have been aware of these issues for an extended period of time and have failed to do anything to repair the road condition.

“We as concerned citizens of this constituency found you negligent! It’s as if you don’t know that this is the one crucial road that we rely upon to open up more areas and stimulate our social and economic development of our constituency.

“This is the one road that instantly connects our constituency to access hospitals and health specialists, schooling for our children, and markets for business and trading to create wealth and jobs.

“We cannot fight against poverty in this constituency without maintaining this one important road of our constituency. This being the case, we request that no other road should be put a priority over this one.”

They said they are in cognizance that the aim of the CDF is “to provide funding to aspiring entrepreneurs and facilitate skills transfer and operational involvement by community groups, thereby promoting social and economic upliftment in pursuant to the government mandate”.

“Yet, we as concerned citizens of this constituency, have never ever noticed any impact or contribution this so called funding has made in our communities.

“Note that it is this development fund that the constituency is wondering where it is being utilized, hence the overwhelming number of complaints from the community members. We have been asked to swiftly investigate this matter.

“This serves as the first of our long list of grievances and there is more to come in the next couple of days. But for now we demand an immediate response within 14 days to the above two pressing issues outlined above.”

When contacted, MP Mkumbwa welcomed the people’s concerns, saying he has “always encouraged that the people should know how the government works”.

He said he had always explained to the people that the CDF was at K52 million and now raised to K100 million, whose breakdown was then K12 million for water development; K3 million for school fees for underprivileged and K37 million for physical development.

In the 2019-2020, his budget was for drainage system upgrade for Blantyre Girls Primary School, junction to St. Andrews International High School, renovation of Ndirande Police storeroom; construction of access bridge to Ndirande Hill Secondary School and  3 boreholes for Che Jini, Green Malata and Nyambadwe communities and K3 million for fees.

The 2020-2021 budget was for fees at K3 million with an additional K1 million from his pocket; construction of two bridges for Gamulani community, an office block for Nyambadwe Primary School Office; 3 boreholes for Makata and Wenela and renovations Green Malata Primary School.

The 2021-2022 budget catered for a bridge for Bello community; rehabilitation of Chinseu drainage; completion of Nyambadwe Primary School office block; 3 boreholes for Wenela, Green Malata, Gangala and fees at K3 million.

The K100 million for the 2022-2023 budget is for youth recreation centre at K45 million (to cost a total of K90 million); rehabilitation of Nasolo Bridge at K30 million; new bridge for Bello at K30 million; 5 Gamulani bridges at K30 million and 6 bridges for Makata at K36 million.

The challenges of the constituency are many in that after the stretch from Chimseu, the tarmac ends at Malaysia MHC community and branches west for access to the area’s main graveyard as well as the Green Malata Primary School.

It also branches to the east as an access to Ndirande Hill Secondary School, Archbishop Mark Kambalazaza’s Charismatic Redeemed Church and the Malabada Health Centre administered by the Blantyre Synod of the CCAP Church.

The Health Centre’s ambulance crosses through this stretch several times on a daily basis with patients referred to main hospitals in Blantyre.

In a separate interview Mwangame said with the current state of the road, patients risk dying before reaching the referral hospitals.

“It is the centre of all economic and health activities of this area and the people need urgent attention to this road as we have heard from the reliable sources that there are plans to construct the access road from Chimseu to Makata market into tarmac.

“No, the priority should be on this main and busiest road first before considering any other developments,” he said.

In an earlier interview, MP Mkumbwa indicated that the main access road needs to rebuild not using the CDF but as a stand-alone project by the Blantyre City Council, which he had hinted already had a proposed budget.

In the fresh interview, Mkumbwa said all MPs do not have the mandate or authority to construct roads, saying “roads are constructed by the Ministry, Roads Fund Administration or the respective Council”.

“Malabada is lucky to be benefiting this Financial Year from two roads: Makhatha-Kambalazaza at K3 billion and Mateyela-Anglican-Chinseu Road at K700 million.

“We fought hard to have these two roads approved, it’s only 4 MPs out of the 8 Blantyre MPs who get roads this year. So we are lucky and it is sad to hear that the people are not satisfied.

“This Malaysia Road will probably cost K900 million to upgrade to bitumen standard. MPs were only given a CDF of K52 million, which cannot afford these sums for roads also it is not permissible to use the CDF as of now to construct roads.

“People really have to become aware of how the government works, then we would move together,” he said.

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