Security scare, Mutharika changes travel details

President Bingu wa Mutharika Friday night announced without disclosing reasons change of his travel details to Nsanje creating panic for the police, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Mutharika travelled to Nsanje Boma Saturday morning to officially launch the 50km long Nsanje-Bangula road and was scheduled to fly to the flood-hit district but changed his mind at the eleventh hour.

The Malawi leader was set to fly direct to Nsanje from his Ndata Manson in Thyolo district where he had been enjoying life with his wife, Calista, but the change of his route line arrangements (Ndata-Blantyre-Nsanje) has created speculations.

“We were just taken by surprise last night when we got communication from our seniors that the HE’s route line has changed and police have to line up along the roads,” one senior police officer told Nyasa Timeson Saturday morning.

Mutharika: Security scare

However, Mutharika’s change of route line cannot be connected to the day’s expected weather condition which the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) projects to be relatively clear in the Shire Valley where he was supposed to fly over.

According to DCCMS, the Shire Valley was focused to be partly cloudy in the morning becoming very hot with a few thunderstorms in the afternoon.

“It has really affected our programmes because, for instance, I was supposed to go to the Kamuzu Stadium for a private duty,” complained the police officer from Blantyre.

The development has also inconvenienced a number of other officers some of who were on off duty and had to be withdrawn for the route line.

During the route line police remain along the roads and streets until the president finishes his assignment regardless of time of the day or night.

The police line up in the streets or along the roads, which they officially call route line, started during the one-party MCP era and many people have heavily criticised the trend.

Apart from the route lines, traffic is also greatly disturbed as the routes are closed for other vehicles, mostly not less than 30 minutes, to clear way for the presidential convoy.

Last November, Mutharika failed to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations (50 years of priesthood) in Thyolo district of his close ally emeritus Bishop Felix Eugenio Mkhori of the Roman Catholic Church after his plane was forced to return to Lilongwe mid air following bad weather in Dedza district.

Instead, his brother and ruling party’s 2014 presidential candidate, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter, represented him.

Talking about the long awaited road which has been constructed by Motal Engel, National Roads Authority (NRA) Chief Executive Officer Paul Kulemeka, said the work is estimated to cost about K9 billion once everything is completed but so far only K7.5 billion has been used.

The road, which is part of the country’s main road, M1 (Class 1- from Chitipa to Nsanje), is likely to increase the economic activities of the Lower Shire area (Nsanje and Chikhwawa) with the other parts of the nation, particularly the commercial city of Blantyre that has been described as the dead area.

On Sunday, Mutharika is scheduled to attend the graduation ceremony of secondary school teachers at Domasi College of Education.

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