Five major roads have been closed due to flood-related damages that have rendered them unusable, the Roads Authority (RA) has confirmed.
The closure of roads have contributed to the disruption of business activities, forcing hospitality units to cancel bookings and transporters to use longer routes after traditional ones have been cut off.
As of Wednesday, said RA, five roads had been closed across the country as either culverts or bridges on the affected roads were washed away.
A sixth one, the Golomoti—Monkey Bay section of the Masasa-Golomoti-Monkey Bay Road was closed due to vandalism of culverts between Phanga and Malembo trading centres.
According to Portia Kajanga, RA public relations officer, the roads that have been closed due to the rains are Mwanza to Kunenekude at Pitala Trading Centre, 15 kilometres from Mwanza; Zomba-Jali-Phalombe Road at Havala Village 28.3 kilometres from Matawale going towards Phalombe or at 7.4 kilometres from Jali to Phalombe.
The others are Limbe to Machinjiri Road at half a kilometre just after turning into Machinjiri Road near Our Lady of Wisdom Secondary School; Muloza Bridge in Mulanje; and Robert Mugabe Highway at Nkando Trading Centre.
“Out of the five roads, the one which is partially open is the Robert Mugabe Highway where we are only allowing light vehicles. Big trucks are being advised to use the Limbe-Thyolo Road.
“The Roads Authority has a team of contractors who are being used on these emergencies. All the time that our engineers are going to any affected site, they are taking along contractors who are left on the site to commence maintenance works,” said Kajanga.
According to RA Facebook page, big vehicles may not be able to pass through Thuchila Bridge at Nkando until debris and damaged handrails are removed, the approaches are repaired.
Transporters are livid at the destruction to roads and the rains in general that have suppressed business activities, most of which involve transportation.
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, Minibus Operators Association of Malawi (Moam) chairperson Coxley Kamanga said the rains have affected the association’s economic activities in several ways as their operations on the roads are now restricted.
He said minibuses are failing to operate on the roads that have been declared impassable, forcing them to use longer routes, which are costly as they require more fuel.
He added that in some cases, even the passable roads are not in good condition due to the rains; hence, many minibus owners are not releasing their buses for business.
Said Kamange: “Business has really been affected. Passengers are not coming in large numbers as is the case during dry days. Many of the people affected across the country are our passengers and instead of going around travelling to conduct their day-to-day business, they are busy rescuing their properties or in hospital.”
On her part, chairperson of Malawi Association for Women in Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MAWTH), Annie Fletcher, said in an interview the rains have disrupted business in the tourism sector as customers are not travelling as they are afraid of the unpredictable weather conditions.
Said Fletcher: “Most tourism and hospitality areas have been affected due to the rains. While some roads are impassable as some of its sections or bridges have been washed away, most travellers have chosen not to travel as most of our roads and bridges cannot be trusted.”
Chrissie Flao, executive director for Road Transport Operators Association (RTOA), also shared Fletcher and Kamange’s sentiments before urging government to rectify the situation and make sure roads that have been rendered impassable are fixed soon.
Flao said just like all travellers, road transportes have also been affected as most roads in Malawi are not in good condition as to warrant safety during travels in the rain season.