Representatives of communities along the Lirangwe-Chingale-Machinga Road yesterday petitioned Parliament over lack of progress of the road construction project.
The community members, who carried placards with messages demanding answers from duty-bearers, expressed worry that there have been several foundation stones laid by different heads of State, but with no progress on the ground.
Kennedy Ngulinga, who presented the petition on behalf of the communities, said it was worrisome that the road project has over the years been used as a campaign tool to woo votes from people.
He said farmers are struggling to transport their produce to markets and that children and pregnant women are also struggling to access public services such as health facilities because of the existing bad road network.
“We would like to get answers from Parliament why we are being treated as less Malawians by denying us the road for 13 years despite allocation of funds. We want this road project to commence before the end of this year and completed before the next elections,” said Ngulinga.
He said the petition was their last resort in pushing for the project after numerous engagements with authorities to implement the project.
Mzimba North legislator Yeremiah Chihana (Alliance for Democracy-Aford), flanked by several members of Parliament (MPs) who attended to the petitioners, promised that their concerns will be presented in Parliament tomorrow to demand answers from authorities.
He conceded that 13 years of waiting for the project was too long.
Chihana said: “It is surprising that the road, which is touching three districts, is not being completed. This is shocking because I thought the problem is only apparent in the Northern Region.”
Reacting to the petition, Centre for Social Concern programme officer for economic governance Bernard Mphepo said it was saddening that a 62.3-kilometre (km) road has taken 13 years without any remarkable progress and urged politicians to remove politics from national development.
Zomba Chingale legislator Loney Chijere Phiri (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) said the petitioners have just confirmed numerous requests made by MPs for government to implement the project.
The 62.3 km road extends northwards off the M1 at Lirangwe in Blantyre passing through Chingale and Chinseu trading centres in Zomba District and connects with the M2 Zomba-Liwonde Road at Chingale Turn-off in Machinga.
The about K18 billion road project is funded by the Malawi Government and a 2013 $10.2 million concessional loan from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
The road project, which was earmarked to start during the administration of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, did not take off despite being allocated funds in the national budget and from donors.
In 2014, former president Joyce Banda laid a foundation stone to mark the beginning of the project, but, again, the project did not take off the ground.
In May 2018, former president Peter Mutharika laid yet another foundation stone on the project and implementation started, but has since stalled.