The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has queried lack of progress on the upgrading and construction of the Lirangwe-Chingale-Machinga Road despite government borrowing $10 (about K.5 billion) from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development meant for the road.
In an interview in Lilongwe on Wednesday, CCJP national project coordinator for the Promotion of Democratic and Accountable Governance (Pdag) Project, Wezzie Banda, wondered why there seems to be delaying tactics on the road despite Parliament approving the bill so that the road be improved to an all-weather 62.3 kilometres road last November.
CCJP’s Pdag Project in Zomba is centred on the tarmacking of the Liragwe-Chingale-Machinga Road and the advocacy work began in 2008, according to Banda.
The road, which stalled some three years ago, has been the subject of concern by people living in the three districts of Machinga, Zomba and Blantyre.
“This road has been out of the previous national budgets and we were glad to hear that government has contracted a loan from the Kuwait Fund and our fear is that being the campaign period, the funds could be reallocated to somewhere,” said Banda.
She said their findings, through the Pdag project, show that expectant women are victims of delays in upgrading the road and that most basic items around the surrounding areas are exorbitant as traders pass on high costs of transport to consumers.
Banda also said CCJP understands that Chingale area is fertile and conducive for agricultural production, but lamented that despite abundance agricultural produce, there is no reliable market for the products due to the absence of a tarmac road.
“Our goal is to make sure that the poor and vulnerable citizens of Zomba and Karonga dioceses actively participate and influence democratic and accountable governance. We aim to develop the capacity of citizens on their rights and obligations resulting in demand for rights and enhanced transparency and accountability among duty bearers at different levels for fulfillment of their development needs,” she added.
Minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba and the ministry’s spokesperson Nations Msowoya were out of reach yesterday to comment on CCJP query on the delays on the road.
But Mkwezalamba told Parliament last November that the road would improve the social and economic development of Lilongwe, Chingale and Machinga.
He said construction of road will include bridges, drainages, earth works and environmental protection works.
Mid last month, the Roads Authority (RA) said all preparatory work for the construction of the road has been completed but lack of funding is delaying the tendering the process.