Ministry of Transport and Public Works says government has invested K4 billion in the construction of reinforced concrete bridges in rural areas across the country to ease mobility.
The bridges under the scheme are replacing timber decked ones which were susceptible to weather-related shocks, including flooding.
Currently, about 97 bridges have been upgraded under the project funded by the Government of Malawi through Roads Authority (RA).
Speaking in an interview on Monday at the launch of Mongo Bridge at Eswazini in Mzimba District and Muswaya Bridge in Mwazisi, Rumphi, RA chief executive officer Engineer Emmanuel Matapa said 97 bridges have been constructed so far.
He said the bridges have been constructed at a cost of K3.9billion.
Said Matapa: “We are constructing both small and big bridges across the country to enhance economic activities in the rural areas.”
Minister for Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango, who commissioned the bridges, said the bridges are opening up rural areas to new economic opportunities.
He said 45 more bridges would be constructed in the next phase.
“We plan to construct 45 more bridges in the next phase because we would like to reach out to as many vulnerable groups in the economy as possible,” said Mhango.
He said the bridges have eased transportation of farm produce to markets.
But the minister warned contractors against putting up substandard structures in the project. Here, he gave an example of a bridge in Nkhotakota District which collapsed soon after being commissioned.
One of the beneficiaries, group village head Galang’anda, said farmers from over 60 villages on the other side of Muswaya Bridge were failing to ferry their farm produce to the market during the rainy season.
He said the bridge has also connected people from his area to Mwazisi Health Centre and Rumphi District Hospital.
Muswaya Bridge cost K36.1 million while Mongo Bridge consumed K65 million from taxpayers.