Blantyre Water Board (BWB) says it needs $150 million (about K108.4 billion) to replace the utility firm’s old pipes which negatively affect water supply in Blantyre and surrounding areas.
In an interview on Monday when Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha visited the board’s water pumping site at Walker’s Ferry at Nkula to appreciate what caused the water crisis in Blantyre last week, BWB chief executive officer Engineer Daniel Chaweza said they are in talks with Indian Exim Bank to fund the project.
He said the two-year project, which is aimed at removing old pipes to improve water supply is expected to roll out in July this year.
He said: “We want to replace all the old water pipes from our pumping site to our consumers. We are discussing with government on this issue.
“The Indian Exim Bank has expressed interest to help us with money, but in three phases. It will release $40 million [about K29 billion] in the first phase, then $60 million [about K44 billion] and $50 million [about K36 billion] in the final phase. We are expected to complete the project in July 2021”.
Blantyre City and other surrounding areas last week faced acute water shortages due to burst pipes and vandalism of main pipes supplying water from the pumping site at Walker’s Ferry.
Currently, the twin main pipes that supply water to Chileka Pumping Station need replacing as one of them was installed in 1963 while the other was installed in 1978.
On his part, Mwanamvekha commended BWB for rectifying the water problem in Blantyre.
However, he asked BWB to be in good terms with communities surrounding the equipment and deploy more security personnel to combat the continued vandalism.
Last week’s water crisis affected all sectors in Blantyre, including health as the country’s largest referral Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital had to suspend surgical operations.