President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday offered K7.7 million (about $10 169.2) to survivors of last month’s torrential rains in Mzuzu called for a stop to a prevalent tendency of settling in disaster-prone areas.
Around 11.20am, Mutharika arrived at one of the worst hit spots in the steep slopes of Masasa Township where Vice-President Saulos Chilima six weeks ago told Mzuzu City Council (MCC) chief executive officer McLeod Kadammanja: “Relocating these people is a must because we will be back next year if they don’t move.”
Chilima might have gone about 50 metres deeper into the hilly slum where houses are at the risk of crumbling due to mudslides, but this time he confined himself to briefing the President about tragedy that inundated the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) which he heads following the rains.
Lying deep at the source of Masasa River, the remains of what used to be the home of Greenwell and Ethel Ziba personifies the perilous state of informal settlements that have emerged in waterways that criss-cross the leafy city where three weeks of relentless rains displaced almost 500 households and killed seven.
Some of the survivors, who are still lodging at Heaven is Here Temple in the area, were still counting the losses when Mutharika offered condolences and envelopes containing K100 000 each for the seven bereaved families.
The President also donated K7 million to MCC to assist people that were affected by the floods.
Government is determined to identify a safe area for households relocating from the risky zones, he said.
Social commentator Charles Kajoloweka described the President’s belated visit as testimony that government sympathises with the affected population.
Mayor William Mkandawire, who went without a handshake from the President, said very little is happening to make the relocation dream come true.
However, the bereaved families were thankful saying the K100 000 (about $146) will go a long way, especially in reconstructing their homes and procuring basic needs.