The Roads Authority (RA) yesterday acknowledged vandalism of metal culverts under the M1 between Phombeya and Phalula in Balaka, but allayed fears of serious damage within the stretch.
In a telephone interview yesterday, RA chief executive officer (CEO) Engineer Emmanuel Matapa said his institution has since asked Fargo Limited, a contractor working on a road in nearby Neno, to rectify the damage caused by vandals.
While indicating that RA officials and Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Nancy Chaola Mdooko inspected the damaged part of the M1 yesterday, he said the road is passable.
Matapa said: “The road will still be passable, we are not going to close the road and within the next three days it should be done.
“In the long term, we will be using concrete culverts because the metal culverts usually attract vandals.”
On Tuesday, a video clip went viral on social media platforms showing the vandalised section with traffic police officers outlining the risks and showing extent of the damage.
Unknown people are suspected to have stolen metal culverts, a development that has led the road to develop a depression.
There are also potholes reportedly resulting from vandals’ efforts to remove the metal culverts.
Matapa yesterday said vandalism of culverts remains one of the biggest challenges which has led to the poor state of roads.
He urged people to be patriotic by protecting such and reporting vandals to relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, Balaka Police Station public relations officer Felix Misomali yesterday said they have since mounted temporary road signs as a precautionary measure apart from road patrols along the stretch.
“We advise motorists driving along this section to be cautious. Investigations are underway to arrest suspects behind such vandalism,” he said.
Misomali further said they are optimistic that the culprits will be brought to book to face the long arm of the law.
He also assured motorists of their safety along the stretch as police are doing their work.
In recent times, the M1 has been prone to vandalism with people removing metal road signs for various usages, including making hoes and other items for both household use and business.
Besides, the M1 has also seen thugs erecting barriers to stop motorists in a bid to rob them of their personal belongings. Some have also been arrested and convicted in the process.
The M1 is an economic lifeline running from Nsanje to Songwe in Karonga where it connects Malawi to Tanzania, whose port in Dar es Salaam benefits Malawi.