Students from the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), yesterday blocked traffic along the Masauko Chipembere Highway as they protested against a water crisis rocking the college.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) president Japhet Nthala said the lack of water at the main campus was an inconvenience and posed a health threat.
He said: “This is not the first time we have had these challenges. This actually happens very often and it is a very big problem. It greatly compromises our sanitation.”
The college’s main campus has been facing persistent water supply challenges since last academic year, but the situation worsened when they had no water from Sunday to yesterday, enraging many of the students.
Blantyre Water Board (BWB) public affairs officer Evelyn Khonje yesterday attributed the recent water shortage at the Polytechnic to a burst pipe near Chichiri Shopping Centre.
However, she said besides the burst supply pipe, the Polytechnic faces problems of low water pressure and blockage of pipes. She said the board has often assisted to resolve the problem.
Following the strike, the college suspended afternoon classes yesterday while the Masauko Chipembere Highway was blocked by irate students.
Polytechnic dean of students Luciano Ndalama admitted that water supply was one of the college’s recurring problems as many of the pipes were worn out and in need of maintenance.
He said BWB was yesterday working on the problem to restore supply.
Spot checks showed that water supply resumed around 4pm yesterday.
Ndalama said classes will resume this morning.
The last time Polytechnic students took to the streets was in 2016 when they protested against a fee hike which saw 14 students—five girls and nine boys—arrested in the process. n