Complaints of a poor road network between Lilongwe and Mzimba will be a thing of the past as government plans to upgrade the M1 Road to international standard.
This is courtesy of a project under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) which wants to align the country’s main road to the North-South Corridor that runs from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Durban in South Africa.
Already, government has engaged Wataya Consulting Engineers to start redesigning the road.
Wataya Consulting Engineers director, Kingsley Wataya said the project might cost government $150 million (about K103 billion).
He said the stretch from Lumbadzi in Lilongwe to Mzimba Turnoff will need reconstruction, widening of the lanes and resealing of the potholes.
“We have concluded our feasibility studies and we are now at design stage. We need to have detailed designs,” he told Mzimba district executive committee (DEC) at a briefing last week.
The meeting is part of sensitisation activities on the project the consultant is conducting in Kasungu, Dowa, Mzimba and trading centres along the M1 Road.
Government, however, is mum on the project as Roads Authority (RA) spokesperson Portia Kajanga refused to speak about the project.
But a source at RA said Comesa will fund drawing which will be kept until government has secured funding for construction of the road.
“The consultant is doing environmental studies for the project. They are collecting data on the terrain, rivers, mountains and levels of deterioration of the road.
“It is too early now to say we have a project. It is after finding the actual money that we will announce the project. Otherwise, it will raise excitement on something that will take years to come. In fact, it can take up to five years before the project takes off,” said the source.
Apart from the Lumbadzi-Mzimba stretch, government has also offered contracts to other consultants to work on the stretches from Kacheche (Mzimba) to Chiweta (Rumphi), Mzimba Turnoff to Mzuzu City and Karonga to Songwe border.
“Eventually, the whole M1 Road will be upgraded,” said the source.
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.