President Peter Mutharika says government is ready to revive the Nsanje World Inland Port project, which has already cost taxpayers billions of kwacha, but it is waiting for Mozambique Government’s approval.
The President was speaking on Sunday when he held a whistle-stop tour of Nsanje and Chikwawa to inspect the progress of some infrastructure projects in the Lower Shire.
Speaking in almost all trading centres such as Bangula and Tengani in Nsanje and Ngabu, Nchalo and Thabwa in Chikwawa where he addressed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) followers, which we monitored on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Radio 1, Mutharika said funds for the port, which was a brainchild of his brother former president Bingu waMutharika, are available.
Said the President: “My government is ready to revive the construction work of the port and the funds are available for the project, but we are only waiting for our colleagues from Mozambique to grant us permission.”
During campaign for the May 21 Tripartite Elections, Mutharika promised that if re-elected, his government would revive work on the port, which had been idle for years, in his first six months.
But commenting on Mutharika’s remarks, governance commentator RafiqHajat, who is also executive director of Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), said Mozambique would authorise Malawi to proceed with the project if the country took the matter seriously.
He said: “The project is an ambitious one and if it gets on track, it would be a major achievement. I am really sure that the government of Mozambique will not put blocks for no reason. I think it needs to be looked into it carefully.”
The Nsanje World Inland Port was meant to link Chinde in Mozambique through the Shire-Zambezi rivers. It was inaugurated on October 23 2010 by former president Bingu waMutharika, at a function that was shunned by his then Mozambican counterpart Armando Guebuza whose government policy at the time was to develop rail and roads.
But former presidents of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Rupiah Banda and Robert Mugabe respectively attended the function.
In June 2016, the Shire River on the section of the port had completely dried up as if to vindicate Mozambique which questioned the viability of the project as it argued that water levels in both Shire and Zambezi rivers were going down.
The drying of the port area was a result of dwindling water inflows in the Shire River and Lake Malawi due to the El Nino weather episode experienced in 2015/16 rainy season, which also affected power generation in the country.
During Sunday’s tour of the Lower Shire, Mutharika said he is committed to developing the country and promised more developmental projects such as construction of University of Bangula, an international airport and seven new secondary schools in Nsanje.