President Peter Mutharika has commissioned the 13.4 kilometres Lilongwe-West bypass road, with an appeal for communities surrounding the road to avoid vandalising it.
The K3.9 billion ($7.2 million) project was co-financed by the Malawi Government and African Development Bank (AfDB).
It branches off the M1 road at Bunda turn-off and runs westwards crossing Likuni road and connects to the M12 road (Lilongwe-Mchinji road) at Kaunda BP filling station.
The road is part of the multinational Nacala Corridor which connects Lusaka in Zambia to Nacala Port in Mozambique and it facilitates the easy movement of goods and people without congesting the city centre of Lilongwe thereby reducing travel times and operating costs.
Speaking as he commissioned the road at Unicef Ground, Chinsapo 1 in Lilongwe, Mutharika said the road is a testimony of progress the country is making on development.
“We are opening this road to improve the route to connect Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique at the same time we are reducing transport congestion in our Capital City.
“Yes the Green Belt Initiative will bring us sufficient food, community colleges will create jobs and businesses; Indeed the Malata subsidy programme will give people decent homes and yes foreign direct investments will bring money, but we also need a good road network and this must start from the heart of the country,” he said.
Mutharika also stressed the need to improve road networks throughout the country, saying Lilongwe needs to be connected to all districts.
AfDB Resident Representative Dr Andrew Mwaba emphasised the significance of infrastructure and integration as drivers of growth and transformation.
Said Mwaba: “The commissioning of the road marks yet another milestone and testimony to government’s determination to improve transport and trade facilitation along the major international corridors and fostering regional economic integration to unlock Malawi’s potential for sustainable growth.
The bank’s [AfDB] support to Malawi has prioritised infrastructure with emphasis on transport and regional cohesion. The aim is to enhance Malawi’s competitiveness by lowering the cost of transportation thereby fostering rapid growth and cost reduction.”
Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila said the road facilitates easy movement of goods and people without congesting the city centre of Lilongwe thereby reducing travel times and operating costs.
Mota-Engil constructed the road from November 2012 to November 2014.