Communities around Makhanga in Nsanje District have commended government for linking the island with the mainland through the construction of the 82-kilometre Thyolo-Thekerani-Makhanga Road.
In an interview yesterday, one of the community members, Ireen M’menya, said the new road has eased mobility challenges.
She said previously, people used to sail on Shire or Ruo rivers to connect to the mainland.
Said M’menya: “We now travel to Blantyre on minibuses at K5 000 one way fare.
“When Vice-President Saulos Chilima toured the road project two months ago, he ordered the contractor Mota-Engil to allow people to cross on a temporary bridge at Ruo.”
Another community member, Hastings Tembo, said he is now able to transport his agricultural produce such as sweet potatoes to Limbe in Blantyre.
“We used to sell our farm produce for a song to traders from the city,” he said.
Senior Chief Mlolo has since urged her subjects not to vandalise the road.
“Road network is crucial for the development of the area because it stimulates trade and improves the delivery of social services,” she said.
In a separate interview, Roads Authority spokesperson Portia Kajanga said construction works started in August 2016 and were scheduled to finish in three years at a cost of K27 billion.
However, she said due to challenges, the contractor was granted an extension up to April this year, but failed to meet the deadline.
“The contractor has assured government that they will complete the works by the end of December,” said Kajanga.