In the past three weeks alone, floods damaged part of the Karonga-Songwe M1 road adjacent to the Kyungu Bridge, killing unsuspecting motorists who plunged with their vehicles into the raging North Rukuru River.
Two vehicles have since been fished out of the river. Fears are that more vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles could still be lying on the North Rukuru riverbed, and that bodies could have been washed into marshy banks of the river.
Before we could blink, a hired vehicle overturned killing all the four occupants after hitting a pothole near Neno-Turn Off close to Kammwamba Trading Centre on the Blantyre-Zalewa-Lilongwe Road. Then, an unsuspecting driver smashed into the overturned vehicle killing the passenger, bringing the total of the dead to five.
Before the mourning was over, two or more vehicles were in involved in a head-on pile up near Lirangwe, also along the same Blantyre-Zalewa-Lilongwe Road.
And then, a new passenger bus hit into a tree near Matete Road Block in Nkhata Bay. The bus was extensively damaged but there were no reported casualties, Alhamdulillah [praise be to God].
These are the accidents we are aware of as reported to us by the social media. Others may have passed unreported.
Social media commentators blamed the fatal incident on the Chinese Kyungu Bridge contractor. However, an engineer who appointed himself to assess the damage absolved the contractor reporting, also on social media, that it was not the bridge that curved in but the road section adjoining that bridge.
Others blamed everything on the Roads Authority. And we, the Bottom Up expedition led by the indefatigable, genuine Prof Dr Joyce Befu, MEGA-1, join those who blame the Roads Authority and verily believe that that organisation has on its hands the blood of all the people that die almost every day on the roads of Malawi.
We have wondered publicly before why our roads have so many potholes when the Roads Authority has funds extracted from fuel levies and appropriated from Parliament. What does the Roads Authority do with all the money?
We have wondered openly before about the kind of contractual arrangements the Roads Authority makes with road patchers, menders, repairers, sorry, resurfacers. Potholes are identified, chiseled out and, in fact, widened in readiness for filling with concrete or bitumen. Then weeks, if not months and sometimes years, pass without the potholes being covered. Why do you, Roads Authority, create such deathtraps? Explain. Dziko limve.
The most notorious such abandoned potholes are along the Balaka – Mangochi Turn Off Road, the NkhotaKota-Dwangwa section of the Great Kamuzu Lakeshore M5 Road, the Lilongwe–Kasungu Road; Balaka–Mtakata Lakeshore Road, and of course, the Lunzu- Zalewa Turn Off section of the M1. The potholes on these roads lead to vehicles bursting tyres, and damaging suspension assemblies. Sometimes cars overturn as the drivers attempt to duck the postholes.
We know why it takes so long to repair and patch the potholes on our roads when Roads Authority has the money. Negligence. This negligence is costing lives and this Bottom Up court finds Roads Authority fully guilty of ‘humanslaughter’.
Other than the Roads Authority, we find the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Infrastructure guilty of earning salaries and freebies while leaving the negligent Roads Authority unchallenged and unsupervised.
But the guiltiest are, perhaps us, the average Malawians whose relatives die on the roads. All of us are guilty of letting the Roads Authority officers and the Parliamentarians walk about pompously with tummies full of allowances earned for neglecting their duties. We, average Malawians do not get angry enough to force the Roads Authority into serious action. No more.
Congratulations George Kasakula, reform MBC
We congratulate George Kasakula on his appointment as Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s new Director General. Please reform the MBC into a public broadcaster and ensure all the women that work there are respected and only disciplined for professional failures. We have had enough scandals from there.