The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a loan and a grant to finance the rehabilitation of the 350 kilometre (km) M1 Road from Lumbadzi in Lilongwe to Mzimba and from Kacheche in Mzimba to Chiweta in Rumphi.
The road is in a bad state with potholes and receding edges, but it seems the routine maintenance works on the stretch are not yielding required results.
In an interview, Roads Authority (RA) chief executive officer Engineer Emmanuel Matapa said EIB has agreed to provide 120 million euros (about K100.8 billion) for the reconstruction of the road, with 40 million euros (about K33.6 billion) as a grant and 80 million euros (about K67.2 billion) loan. He said the loan was approved this month.
He said: “The next move is that they will send the draft financing agreement to Ministry of Finance which ratifies it with the Malawi Parliament while RA will be looking into the technicalities.”
Matapa, who was speaking on the sidelines of Karonga-Songwe Road progress tour, said RA already has designs for the two sections and will now be involved in procurement.
“By next month, we will advertise for consultancies and contractors of the project because we want the processes to move in parallel to cut on time,” he explained.
According to Matapa, the authority will advertise for about four contracts where one phase will take about three years from the time of being awarded the contract.
Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango in an interview confirmed that EIB has approved the financing of the project.
“We have just concluded discussions with EIB for financing of the project. The money is now available and we are only waiting for Parliament to approve the loan,” he said.
Government in 2016 engaged Wataya Consulting Engineers to redesign the road. The consultant also concluded a feasibility study in the same year.
Apart from the Lumbadzi-Mzimba and Kacheche-Chiweta stretches, government had also planned to work on the stretch from Mzimba Turnoff to Mzuzu City and Karonga to Songwe border.
The project seeks to upgrade the M1 Road to align it to existing standards on the North-South Corridor that runs from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Durban in South Africa under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
Similar projects are taking place in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. Comesa guidelines require that the lanes be widened from three metres to three and a half.