President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered the Ministry of Transport and Public Works to ensure construction of the 260-kilometre (km) M24/M09 Rumphi-Nyika-Nthalire-Chitipa Road starts within four months.
His order follows a public outcry over the delay to start construction works five years after his predecessor Peter Mutharika launched the project.
Chakwera issued the order yesterday at Chitipa airfield where he addressed a development rally after a crop inspection tour in some parts of the district.
The President noted that for many years, the road has been used as a campaign tool to attract votes from the people of Rumphi and Chitipa districts.
Said Chakwera: “I have travelled on that road with the First Lady several times. Although I haven’t used it this time, I must say, it is in bad shape. So, I asked Minister of Transport Jacob Hara who has told me that there were no designs and feasibility study.
“I now order honourable [Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob] Hara and your team to ensure that works start within four months. We have worked so hard to come up with the designs, as such, we also want speedy construction works.”
He said during the 2021/22 fiscal year, Parliament approved a budget for nine months, but noted that if procurement processes would take the same nine months, nothing would have been done that year.
Chakwera said: “That will not be allowed and that is why we are saying all procurement processes and systems must be concluded within 21 days. Malawians are waiting for development and whoever wants to act to the contrary, we will see how to deal with them.”
Speaking earlier at the same event, Paramount Chief Kyungu pleaded with Chakwera to ensure that the Rumphi-Nyika-Nthalire-Chitipa Road is constructed the soonest.
He said: “You have seen for yourself the condition of the road from Chiweta to Karonga and Karonga to Chitipa. Let me also add that the Mbirima as well as Nthalire-Chitipa roads are also in bad shape.”
On April 8 2022, Roads Authority issued a notice of intention to award contracts for upgrading of the first 20km of the road from Chikwawa to Bembe to Unik Construction Limited at a cost of K7.694 billion.
Last year in March, government terminated a K5.1 billion contract with contractor Mota-Engil to construct the road due to contractual disputes, but government had already paid K1.7 billion to the contractor.
At the time of the termination of the contract, only six kilometres had been partly constructed.
Capital Hill later spent another K1.2 billion for maintenance of the road which was carried out by Zhenjing Communications Construction Company Ltd and China Railway No.5.