Residents living along the Lirangwe-Chingale-Mchinga Road have today held peaceful protest outside the Malawi Parliament to demonstrate their displeasure with the delay by the government to complete construction of the road.
The 61.2 km long road, which the Roads Authority (RA) designated as S139, starts at Lirangwe Trading Centre in Blantyre District and it extends northwards passing through Chingale and Chinseu Trading Centres.
The road passes through the gentle undulating plains of the western side of Zomba Mountain traversing through swampy areas at Chingale.
The project works would involve upgrading the existing earth standard road to class II bitumen standard road with a 6.7m carriage way and 1.5m sealed shoulders on either side of the road.
At least, four bridges are expected to be constructed along the road.
Former President Joyce Banda first launched the road construction project in 2014, when her government committed US $19.6m for the work and was expected to be complete by 2018.
However, the government failed to meet the “90 days” pledge to begin the construction.
The erstwhile former President Peter Mutharika re-launched the construction of Lirangwe-Chingale turnoff road in June 2018.
The locals suspected that Mutharika’s promise was a campaign strategy to garner support from the Eastern Region ahead of the annulled 2019 presidential election.
Their fears were vindicated after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led administration failed to live up to its billing until Mutharika was ousted from power by the Tonse Alliance in the June 2020 Fresh Presidential Election.
Since then, there has been no progress on the road, which, if improved, would improve mobility and accessibility to areas of high agricultural activity that also uses irrigation farming thereby providing means for transporting agricultural products to various market across the area and the Southern Region of Malawi.
Easy accessibility would enhance the economic activity of people around the area and ease movement of people to Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre where they can access various services.
Tired of being fed with a trail of lies by politicians, a dozen of residents along the road today took to the Presidential Highway in Lilongwe to protest against further delayed construction work.
After the peaceful demonstration, the concerned citizens delivered a petition to Mzimba North legislator, Yeremiah Chihana, who represented all members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly.
A representative of the residents, Francis Gondwa, said they are facing many challenges as the road becomes impassable during rainy season.
And speaking after receiving the petition, Chihana lamented the delay, stressing that it is denying the residents access to viable economic activities.
The Centre for Social Concern is tracking the project to ensure transparency and accountability is achieved in the implementation of the project.
The organization’s Programme Manager responsible for Economic Governance, Bernard Mphepo, said they are baffled to see the road in a bad shape yet there was money allocated for it in the national budget.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :