This week, Malawi Property Investment Company (Mpico) and its partners officially opened the doors of Gateway Shopping Mall next to African Bible College (ABC) Clinic off Kaunda Road in Lilongwe’s Area 47. Congratulations for the imposing architectural work.
For sure, the biggest mall in the country, that cost investors $40 million (about K20 billion) will give shoppers from Lilongwe and across the country a new shopping experience.
Kaunda Road, which starts from the newly-constructed round-about where the Lilongwe West By-pass Road from Bunda Turn-Off joins the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road, is now the hub of developments and commerce in Lilongwe.
To give a picture, besides the Gateway Mall, it is also along Kaunda Road that the modern National Stadium is under construction and set for opening next November. It is also along the same road where the joint Chinese and Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) residential estate and business centre Guoji Dream Town is taking shape.
With these developments, what baffles me is that Kaunda Road seems to be ignored, at least that is my conclusion in the absence of information about its expansion being made public. Here is a road I believe needs to be expanded into a dual-carriageway to prepare for increased traffic volume and avoid congestion when all the mentioned projects are up and running.
Now that the Gateway Shopping Mall has opened its doors, it is my humble plea to Lilongwe City Council (LCC), the Roads Authority (RA), the Roads Fund Administration (RFA) and other stakeholders, including the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE), to lead the process of mobilising funds and working on designs for an expansion project of Kaunda Road. We cannot afford to leave it in its present two-way single-lane status when it has now been exposed to increased traffic volume.
The other day I also mentioned the Lilongwe West By-pass Road which branches off the M1 Road at Bunda Turn-Off across the Likuni Road to join the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road near Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) offices as another “engineering disaster” in the making. Why? Here is a road said to be part of the Nacala Development Corridor and it is designed to divert traffic from the busy Lilongwe town going up North and Zambia. This is a good initiative, but seriously, in 2014, should such a road be a single-lane? If this is not an engineering disaster, then what is!
My plea to authorities and engineers is that we should plan beyond the present. We should dream big. We should not be too humble, simplistic and apologetic in our plans and designs for the roads.
Talking about engineering disasters, it is my appeal once again to the Blantyre City Council to consider easing traffic congestion in the Blantyre central business district (CBD) where parking has become a nightmare for the plebeians (anthu wamba) after a good part of the available parking slots were sold to corporate.
Traffic congestion in the Blantyre CBD can be managed if, for example, the council introduced one-way drives on Haile Selassie Road, part of Glyn Jones Road from the roundabout near Kabula Puma Service Station as well as part of Victoria Avenue. What this means is that traffic from the Clock Tower direction would enter the CBD through Haile Selassie Road and branch off into other feeder roads in town.
Let us build better cities for the future today.