Roads Authority (RA) says it needs K4.6 billion to rehabilitate major roads and bridges damaged mostly in the Southern Region by floods caused by incessant rains two weeks ago.
Effectively, the rehabilitation costs push up to K16.6 billion the total recovery package from the disaster which prompted President Peter Mutharika to declare a State of National Disaster in the 17 districts worst hit by floods.
In an interview yesterday, RA spokesperson Portia Kajanga said an assessment the authority conducted found that a number of bridges and five roads were damaged and require immediate rehabilitation for continued traffic flow.
She said: “This [the K4.6 billion] was not budgeted for and the funds are not yet available.”
Kajanga was optimistic that Treasury would release funds for the rehabilitation projects.
The roads and bridges damaged during the floods include the Chikwawa-Blantyre section of the M1 near Kamuzu Bridge in Chikwawa, East Bank Road (Thabwa to Fatima), Robert Mugabe Highway (also known as Midima Road), Mangochi-Makanjira Road in Mangochi and the Mpatamanga Bridge on the Chileka-Mwanza Road.
Kajanga said rehabilitation of the M1 near Kamuzu Bridge which was completely cut-off is estimated to cost about K600 million.
On the other hand, the East Bank Road was submerged in water at a number of sections, leading to increased scope of the on-going contract by China Railway No 5 funded by the World Bank. In the circumstances, the project will now need 11 extra culverts estimated at K2 billion and to be funded by the Government of Malawi.
Kajanga said the Robert Mugabe Highway was mostly affected at Thuchila where a contractor is on site putting up a new bridge.
She said: “The whole road section at Thuchila got submerged in the floods. The assessment has established that there is need for additional funding estimated at K500 million to increase the number of spans of the new bridge being constructed.”
Four bridges were washed away on the Mangochi -Makanjira Road, rendering the Makanjira area cut off from Mangochi Boma. Kajanga said K1 billion will be required to replace the bridges at K250 million each.
On the rehabilitation of the Mpatamanga Bridge on the Chileka-Old Mwanza Road, Kajanga said a Bailey bridge is estimated to cost K500 million.
Incessant rains experienced in most parts of the country two weeks ago caused havoc as it led to flooding, destruction of roads, crops and buildings as well as displacement of people. At least 56 have since been confirmed dead.
In the wake of the disaster, economists predicted economic devastation with Economic Association of Malawi executive director Maleka Thula stating that as a consequence, the expected fall in agricultural production will affect inflation rate—the rate of the general rise in the prices of goods and services in the economy.
In the first round of crop estimates, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development projected an increase in maize crop production from 2.6 million metric tonnes (MT) in 2017/18 to 3.3 million MT in 2018/19 representing 25 percent increment.
The results also showed that all the country’s eight agricultural development divisions (ADDs) would record an increase in maize production compared to the 2017/18 agricultural season.
However, last week interviews with four affected ADDs of Shire Valley, Blantyre, Machinga and Salima revealed that crops, particularly the staple grain maize, have either been washed away or buried in the mud.
But the nation can now breathe a sigh of relief as Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (MET) director Jolamu Nkhokwe ruled out more flooding and cyclones in the coming weeks.
In recent years, Malawi has been experiencing serious effects of climate change as manifested by recurring floods or dry spell, or both almost yearly.
In 2015, Malawi experienced one of the worst and devastating floods, with an estimated 1 101 364 people affected, 230 000 displaced, 106 killed and 172 reported missing.
Overall, the 2015 Floods Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) showed that total damage and loss was valued at about K247 billion while total cost of recovery and reconstruction was pegged at about K465 billion).