As the scramble for maize continues in most Admarc depots in Malawi, 280 bags of maize have been lost on Lake Malawi after a boat delivering the maize to Likoma District was on the brink of sinking.
The boat, with at least 22 passengers, was transferring 400 bags of maize from Nkhata Bay to Chizumulu Admarc in Likoma.
Likoma District Commissioner Charles Mwawembe said in an interview on Wednesday the incident happened in the evening hours of 5 March after the boat encountered an engine fault.
“It was around 6 o’clock when the passengers noticed that freshwater was entering the boat through the water pumps that seemed to have been damaged on the way,” said Mwawembe.
He said the passengers, in trying to save their lives, started to throw some of their heavy belongings in the water but this did not lessen the weight of the boat.
“After throwing all their heavy stuffs, the passengers panicked and started throwing the bags of maize which as you know are heavy. When they reached the shore, a total of 280 bags were lost in the waters,” said Mwawembe.
He said: “While we cry for the loss, we are glad that none of the passengers got harmed or dropped into the waters.”
He said the rest of the bags, 120 in total, were carried to Chizumulu Admarc, leaving the Admarc in need of more maize to cater for the area’s population.
“Over 1 000 bags are due to arrive in the district for both Likoma and Chizumulu Admarc depots. 500 bags have already been delivered to Likoma Admarc which is expected to receive 800 bags of maize,” said Mwawembe.
Chizumulu Island is the smaller of the two inhabited islands on Lake Malawi, the larger being Likoma Island. The two together make up Likoma District.
The incident comes after President Joyce Banda and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security admitted that there is insufficient maize in the country.