Ministry of Transport says lack of road construction and maintenance has led to serious damage to roads, inconveniencing motorists and contributing to high cost of doing business.
Minister of Transport Sidik Mia, in an interview on Friday, admitted the problem is evident nationwide and will cost government a lot of money in external loans.
The minister said through the National Transport Master Plan, the ministry will prioritise road construction and maintenance starting with national roads that need urgent attention.
Mia cited the Lilongwe-Kasungu Road construction project, with support from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The other road projects on priority list include the Salima -Nkhata Bay Road, which is in a dilapidated condition and needs attention as well as the Balaka-Zomba Road, which requires rehabilitation.
Said Mia: “The road maintenance has for the past six years stalled, but we have now taken full responsibility where we have to maintain all national and local roads to good standards.
“There have been projects going on without funding as such, we have incurred arrears in the last six years amounting to K85 billion and this a burden on our resources.”
On rural roads, he said government had over 52 road graders, but now only two are operational, a development that is contributing to road maintenance delays.
Mia said government is now maintaining graders so that works on rural roads are maintained by government machinery to save money.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry head of real sector and macroeconomic policy Hope Chavula said in an interview that the cost of doing business in the country is high, citing production and transportation costs as among the key drivers.
He said this makes doing business expensive, effectively affecting economic growth and development.
Last year, Government of Malawi, EIB and the European Union, signed a 139 million euro (about K112 billion) financing agreement for the rehabilitation of the 347- kilometre M1.
The rehabilitation is expected to start from Kamuzu International Airport Junction via Kasungu to Kasungu-Jenda, Jenda-Mzimba junction and Kacheche-Chiweta.
The road is currently in a dilapidated state and is considered as a death trap to motorists.
The money comprises 95.5 million euros (K77 billion), which is an EIB loan described as the largest ever loan for investment in Malawi combined with 43.1 million euro (K34 billion) EU grant.
The rehabilitation of the road will reduce transport costs, cut travel time and facilitate export.
The M1 upgrade is also expected to improve international links to Zambia and enhance access to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania as part of the North-South Regional Transport Corridor.
Experts say by upgrading the road to modern standards, it will result in significant improvements in safety for road users and boost trade.