Vice-President Saulos Chilima yesterday r efused to be hoodwinked by Blantyre City Council (BCC) officials when he visited Manja Township where earth roads are in bad shape.
Upon being informed of Chilima’s impromptu visit to the township, BCC sent workers to cut grass, sweep the roads and collect garbage, to create an impression that they were doing something to improve the township’s general outlook and its feeder roads.
But after being briefed by BCC acting chief executive officer Costly Chanza on challenges facing the council to give Manja Township residents tarmac roads and street lights, Chilima, who drove to have a feel of the feeder roads, cautioned the council officials against cheating people.
He said: “You have brought your men to sweep and collect garbage because I was coming, don’t do that. Don’t cheat me, do these things regularly.”
Earlier, Chanza told the Vice-President that Manja Township roads have been funded on three separate occasions, but the money was diverted to other projects within Blantyre City South Constituency.
When Chilima asked what challenges led to the council’s failure to give Manja residents good roads,Chanza said the project would require K3 billion.
Chanza said the people, led by the Rise Up Manja Initiative, met council officials on April 29 2021 where they demanded tarmac roads.
“Yes, I agree with them [the residents]. They are right. You cannot have a road like this one in town,” Chilima said.
For a start, the Veep suggested that the council must grade the township’s roads while waiting for the tarmac project to start.
In response, Chanza said this could start anytime soon, but Chilima overruled him and ordered that the grading works must start next Monday.
Later, Chilima told a gathering in Manja that the tarmac road will come with street lights. He said the project is in line with what he and President Lazarus Chakwera promised Malawians during the campaign ahead of the June
23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election.
Rise Up Manja Initiative was formed on March 8 this year to champion developmental activities in Manja Township and its first task was to demand tarmac roads and street lights.
On April 16 2021, the initiative wrote BCC to demand the tarmac roads, street lights and regular collection of garbage and gave the council 14 days to respond.
The leadership of the initiative was invited for a meeting at BCC on April 29 2021 where they met council and Malawi Housing Corporation officials.
Chanza attended the meeting, according to one of the initiative’s leaders George Mwawa.
In an interview, Mwawa said the 14-day ultimatum the residents gave the council to respond to their letter expired on April 30 2021, but the council is yet to respond