Government has launched a programme to grade and reshape unpaved roads to allow contractors complete the works before the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The programme, which normally starts in May, has this year started earlier to ease mobility during the elections, according to Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango.
He said: “These roads will play an important role in the administration of free and fair elections; hence, the haste. Political parties will need these roads to reach out to people with their manifestos. Electoral administrators will need them to transport electoral materials, and the people will need to travel to vote so we want everything to be smooth.”
Mhango was speaking during the launch of the programme at Edingeni in Mzimba on Saturday after performing a similar task at Mtakataka in Dedza last Monday.
Roads Authority (RA) chief executive officer Engineer Emmanuel Matapa said the authority has this year allocated K2.5 billion to the exercise which is funded by government from fuel levies.
He said the works will be done concurrently in all the regions and that contractors have already been identified and that with the launch, the works have started.
“The good thing is that we are not waiting for money from elsewhere, it’s our own budget and the money is there so once we start, there will be no interruptions until we finish. All contractors have already been identified,” said Matapa.
The programme was introduced in line with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III and the Transport Master Plan 2018 which are medium-term policy documents providing a platform for wealth creation and sustainable economic growth through infrastructure development.
Matapa said the programme will also improve benefits in agriculture, trade, education, health, tourism and mining.
Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa V of Mzimba and Senior Chief Kachindamoto of Dedza hailed government and RA for speeding up the programme, saying most roads are in bad shape due to heavy rains the country has experienced this year.
Said M’mbelwa: “Good roads will ease transportation of farm produce to markets for farmers and that’s an advantage to us.”
RA plans to spend K497 million on 686 kilometres (km) of roads in five Northern Region districts and K956 million on 946 km in nine Central Region districts.
RA spokesperson Portia Kajanga said the Southern Region programme will be launched soon to ensure all feeder roads and other ancillary works such as installation of drainage structures are completed in time. n