Nsanje chiefs push for speedy resumption of Bangula-Marka Railway Rehab Project

Traditional leaders in Nsanje have made impassioned appeal to the Tonse Alliance government to expedite the process of awarding a contract to a successful bidder for the Bangula-Marka Railway Rehabilitation Project.

Addressing journalists at Nsanje Boma on Saturday, the chiefs emphasized that the railway line is a social and economic lifeline of the district and that any delays to resuscitate it is directly affecting their livelihoods.

The chiefs organized the press briefing in conjunction with Centre for Mindset Change (CMC) to throw their weight behind the government’s decision to award China Railway 20 Bureau Limited (CR20) a contract to rehabilitate Bangula-Marka Railway line.

SGVH Nyachikadza–Let CR20 start work on the railway line now–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Over 20 traditional and influential community leaders in Nsanje converged at the boma to voice out their concerns surrounding the project.

Apparently, the chiefs were reacting to a protest letter Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) wrote to the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jacob Hara, asking him to consider withdrawing the authorization letter to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) in order to allow for adequate soul-searching before settling for a company to do the rehabilitation of the much-awaited railway line rehabilitation project.

In his remarks, Senior Group Village Head (SGVH) Nyachikadza said the rehabilitation of the railway line is long overdue and, as such, they would not entertain any organization to block the resumption of the project in the name of protecting human rights.

GVH Fombe warning those intending to frustrate the project—Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

“We suspect that some company, which failed to secure the contract is behind such calls. Otherwise, how does someone just wake up from his slumber and calls for the suspension to award a contract to a successful bidder? That’s why we have mobilized resources to invite you to tell the nation that we are not in support of the man who claims to speak on our behalf that we are against the project. That’s not true!” said Nyachikadza, who represented Traditional Authority (T/A) Nyachikadza.

On his part, a visibly angry GVH Fombe warned that they would mobilize themselves to protest against any organization that intends to put brakes to the project.

“We, the people of Chikwawa and Nsanje, are overly excited with reports that the ministry has sent an authorization letter to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) to issue an intention to award a contract to CR20. We wish to commend the government for taking that direction because the rehabilitation of this railway line has been long overdue and that any attempts to frustrate this project will be met with reprisals,” warned Fombe.

Last year, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) terminated the Mota-Engil Africa’s MK48, 244, 861, 524.98 contract and gave a restriction to the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, a few days after CMC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to cancel the contract, suspecting lack of transparency in the way it was awarded.

At the same press briefing, CMC Executive Director Philip Kamangirah said his organization is satisfied with the pace at which the ministry is moving to have the contract awarded.

Kamangirah said together with traditional leaders in the two districts, his organization will rally behind the government and the contractor throughout the implementation of the project.

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