Construction of the Zomba-Blantyre Road is at 40 percent level of completion, newly-elected chairperson of the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee Francis Kasaila has said.
Parliament has allocated K6.835 billion in the 2013/14 National Budget towards construction of the road which received K150 million (about $375 000) and K415 million (about $1.03m) allocations in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 fiscal years, respectively.
The funds were allocated to ensure the road connecting from Blantyre to Zomba is rehabilitated and upgraded.
In an interview on Monday, Kasaila said his committee visited construction works on the site and learnt that the contractor has so far achieved 40 percent overall completion of the work.
He said construction of the road has been marred by several delays. He, however, said the contractor has made efforts to find ways of speeding up implementation of lined up activities on the road.
“The main challenge has been delays but we have seen that the contractor has come up with a solution. He has set up two more camps where works are taking place.
“This means that the same activities will be done at different sections of the road at the same time,” said Kasaila.
According to Kasaila, some of the works the contractor has done on the road include fixing the sub base, stone base, prime coat and surface dressing.
“He has done several earth works and worked on some bridges,” he said.
The committee’s chairperson said one challenge currently affecting construction of the road is uncertainty over government’s contribution to the project to construct dual carriage ways on the Zomba and Limbe ends of the road.
“There is the issue of dual carriage way on both sides of the road. It seems we don’t have the resources at this time for the construction of the dual carriage way,” said Kasaila.
He said while the African Development Bank (AfDB) is financing construction of the main road from Zomba to Blantyre, government committed to finance the dual carriage component of the road.
“The issue of the dual carriage way is not part of the cost funded by AfDB. We are arranging to meet ministers of Transport and Finance to find out about the issue of releasing funds for the dual carriage way.
“It’s better that the road should be completed all at once so that the contractor should not be invited again on the site to do the other part of the work in future which would cost more,” said Kasaila.
He said the road construction is expected to be completed by March next year.
Kasaila, however, said some motorists are complaining that diversions on the road are costing them more due to increased distance to connect from Blantyre to Zomba.