President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday committed to build more roads nationwide to ease transportation of goods and services as well as reduce traffic congestion, especially in cities.
The President made the commitment after touring the K7.6 billion Area 18 Traffic Interchange in Lilongwe which he said will require matching improved road network to ease traffic congestion in the capital city.
His statement comes days after he bemoaned the low status of the country’s cities and dilapidated road infrastructure connecting districts and regions.
During the tour, Chakwera—who was accompanied by Minster of Transport and Public Works Mohammed Sidik Mia and Japanese and Chinese envoys, among other dignitaries—walked from the underpass road to the upper road to appreciate the completion level of the locally funded interchange project.
Said the President: “I am happy that the road is
coming to an end. I am also happy that we have commitments to build more roads so that the decongestion is not only about the interchange. It is also connected to other developments. I am very happy that all these things are happening at this time.”
The Area 18 Cloverleaf Traffic Interchange is located at the site of the then Area 18 Roundabout. It boasts an upper road from Parliament Roundabout to Bingu National Stadium which was upgraded to dual carriageway. The underpass also has a dual carriage on the M1 and is expected to be later connected to the planned Kanengo to Mchinji Roundabout dual carriageway.
On his part, Mia said the Tonse Alliance administration led by Chakwera plans to construct a number of modern roads in cities and other areas to ease transport challenges.
Besides the Kanengo to Mchinji Roundabout dual carriageway, the minister also mentioned the Bunda Roadblock-Crossroads and Parliament Roundabout to Shoprite dual carriageway projects as other planned roads. He said construction is scheduled to start in December.
Said Mia: “The interchange is partly opened to the public. Vehicles will now be passing. But the most important part is that where the President has reiterated that this alone cannot serve the purpose.
“The joint projects will do a great deal to this city for it to be completely decongested.”
He said the road from Parliament Roundabout through Kamuzu Central Roundabout to Shoprite/Nico Centre will be upgraded to a six-lane carriage at an estimated cost of K13 billion.
Other projects to be financed by development partners are the road from Lilongwe CCAP through Lilongwe Bridge via Crossroads carriageway and the Mchinji Road Roundabout passing through Area 18 to Area 25.
Mia said: “You lose a lot of time and money when vehicles queue and when people stay on the road for long hours.”
The minister also said the M1 from Kamuzu International Airport junction to Mzimba Turn-off and the dilapidated Chiweta Road will also be upgraded. The Lilongwe-Kasungu-Mzimba Turn-off Road is one of the driving nightmares in the country as it is riddled with potholes, narrow and has a worn-out shoulder.
In an interview at the site, Roads Authority chief executive officer Emmanuel Matapa said his office was given the mandate to construct and rehabilitate a number of roads nationwide.
He said: “Government has given us a clear instruction to build or maintain roads in Malawi. We have been given instructions to construct modern free way and we are now finalising the design with an intention to award another contract before December.”