Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) has asked for more funds for detailed designs of the nearly K60 billion Lambilambi Dam earmarked to improve water supply in Mzuzu City.
NRWB’s 2015/16 National Plan includes a K200 million allocation for engineering drawings to guide the construction of the $100 million reservoir near Elephant Rock in Mzimba which is expected to lessen pressure on Lunyangwa Dam in the city’s endangered forest of Kaning’ina.
However, NRWB chief executive officer Titus Mtegha asked the Commissions and Statutory Corporation Committee of Parliament to lobby for more funds for the preconstruction task during the midyear budget review session.
Speaking when the committee visited the dam site, Mtegha explained: “We want Parliament to come in. Government did commit to give us some money for the task as the search for the funding of the entire project continues, but it was inadequate.
“We need a substantial amount of no less than $1 million [about K600 million] for the detailed designs, but only K200 million was allocated to it.”
The shortfall puts in limbo a water project envisioned to reduce pressure on Lunyangwa Dam where low water levels mirror the grave effects of erratic rains, rapid population growth and deforestation.
“Mzuzu is sitting on a time-bomb. Lunyangwa is not enough. We need another dam urgently,” says Mtegha.
In 2009, a feasibility study indicated Lambilambi has the potential to supply Mzuzu City with water up to 2030.
Looking forward, NRWB is also exploring the possibility of developing a dam at Luchelemu with the viability spanning to the year 2065. The alternative sight lies within the vicinity of the elephant-like massif.
The water board is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Finance in search of funds for the $100 million dam with a water capacity of 16 million cubic metres.
According to Mtegha, negotiations are underway with the European Bank to bankroll the project targeting the southern part of Mzuzu, leaving townships on the northern half still relying on Lunyangwa.
Committee chair Bentley Namasasu commended the board for its foresighted approach, saying the committee will play its part to ensure adequate funding for the future project. n