Head of European Union (EU) to Malawi Marchel Germann has urged government to take urgent and effective steps to increase funding for maintenance of the road infrastructure.
Speaking during the opening of the Sixth Joint Sector Review Meeting in Lilongwe on Monday Germann said the EU has noted with concern the 37 percent drop in the allocation for road infrastructure in the 2014/15 financial year.
“We once again call on the government to take urgent and effective steps to save road assets from further deterioration through the development of a proper asset management strategy that can effectively address its needs.
“We have noted with great concern the 37 percent drop in the allocation for roads in this year’s budget and we do make a plea that this reduced budget will be carefully allocated to maintenance activities in priority,” he said.
Germann also said road assets preservation can also be achieved through a better management of axle load control operations.
He said an axle load control survey has revealed that axle overload is a major issue with more than one out of three trucks being overloaded.
“We are, however, satisfied to note that government is currently supporting together, with other Sadc member states, the process of harmonising vehicle overload management and is working to finalise a national strategy,” said Germann.
The EU ambassador also urged government to keenly address enforcement and under reporting for axle loads at weigh bridges as it develops the national strategy.
Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila admitted that the reduced funding to the road sector will impact on road maintenance but said government is trying its best to ensure that available resources are put to good use.
“We wish we had all the required resources but currently things are tight. The dollar value of the fuel levy continues to dwindle in the face of a depreciating kwacha but we are working on a mechanism to stabilise this situation,” said Kasaila. n