Roads Fund Administration (RFA) has this year reduced funding to Special City Roads Rehabilitation Programme by almost half, a situation which has put some city councils in a fix.
In an e-mail response, RFA spokesperson Masauko Mngwaluko said the reduction is due to other road maintenance and rehabilitation project commitments for the financing period.
“It’s true. Financing for the Special City Roads Rehabilitation Programme has been reduced this year. The funding has been reduced due to other road maintenance and rehabilitation project commitments for the financing period… We are also financing construction of the Area 18 interchange using our own funds, in addition to the bond we issued,” he said.
Mngwaluko said the total funding for the programme this year is at K2.2 billion. Last year, the programme was funded K7 billion.
Previously, each city council was receiving K1.25 billion each financial year since 2015/16.
However, this year Mzuzu City Council has received K500 million, Lilongwe City Council (K600 million), Zomba City Council (K500 million) and Blantyre City Council (K600 million).
Quizzed earlier during a phone interview, Mngwaluko said most councils have carryover works; hence, the reduction.
“Most of these city councils had carryover projects to be completed. So, the reduced amount is meant for them to finish the works.
“This does not mean we have abandoned the councils. We will continue funding them,” he said.
However, Mzuzu City Council assistant director of engineering services Ngwirelupi Mwalughali said the council has no carryover works.
He said the council is expected to rollout the second phase of the project after completing the first phase where they constructed a 12.4 kilometre (km)-road network with a budget of K5 billion.
Mwalughali said the present allocation is not enough as they intend to construct 10.35 km worth K5.8 billion for at least four years.
“We made our budget based on the previous trend that we are given at least K1.25 billion every year. But we have been given K500 million, meaning that we have a shortfall of K5.3 billion.
“The cut has inconvenienced us so much that we are still discussing with the contractor on how best to use this meagre allocation,” he said.
Mngwaluko added: “We finance councils for specific road and street lighting projects which are identified by the councils. The council has an approved road rehabilitation programme.”
Church and Society Programme monitoring and evaluation officer Happy Mhango said citizens need to lobby government to release full funding for the projects.
“We can’t go on like this. This amount is too little for city councils to successfully construct durable roads. As activists, we need to take up the matter to lobby for more funding,” he said.