People of Likoma Island can now breathe a sigh of relief following the resumption of operations of MV Ilala on Lake Malawi, after it was withdrawn to undergo maintenance.
Lake Malawi provides affordable means of transport for people of Likoma and other lakeshore areas that are not easily accessible by road.
Ilala stopped operating on the lake about a month ago to undergo routine maintenance. People were being served by MV Chilembwe, but the ship was also withdrawn after it hit a rock on its way to Likoma recently.
MotaEngil spokesperson Thomas Chafunya confirmed in an interview yesterday that Ilala has been deployed on the lake after undergoing routine maintenance at Monkey Bay in Mangochi.
The vessel was also supposed to be inspected by Minister of Transport and Public Works MalisonNdau before it could be released to sail on the lake, but has been released before the minister’s visit.
In a separate interview, Ndau confirmed that the vessel had been released before inspection. He said the grounding of MV Chilembwe forced government to have Ilala released before inspection.
“There was a problem with MV Chilembwe, so we needed to have a ship as soon as possible to serve the people,” said Ndau.
He added the country needs more new ships, arguing most of those sailing now are old. He said government plans to have new vessels, but finances are a limiting factor.
Likoma district commissioner (DC) Charles Mwawembe could not be reached on his telephone for comment, but he earlier indicated that there was need to have Ilala back on the waters to serve people.
He said the district is heavily affected by transport problems.