Members of Parliament (MPs) under the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Infrastructure last week Thursday got stuck while on their way from Lirangwe to Machinga during an inspection tour of the Lirangwe, Chingale-Machinga road.
The Parliamentarians were delayed for close to two hours at Nsambamwali Bridge where heavy rains had washed away the bridge making it impassable.
The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) – Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) organized an advocacy tour for the Parliamentary Committee members along with the Bishop of Zomba diocese, Rt. Rev. George Tambala, ECM Secretary General Fr. Henry Saindi, Director of Social Development for ECM, Carstens Mulume and the media.
CCJP National Programmes Coordinator, Wezzie Banda Matsimbe said for about nine years now, people along Lirangwe, Chingale-Machinga road have been facing several challenges due to the nature of the road hence their advocacy role to make sure that government constructs the road.
“This is an important road, not only to people of Lirangwe, Chingale and Machinga but to the nation as a whole. The road is only 63 kilometers long and could last for about 45 minutes to drive. However, it take more hours for one to drive,” said Matsimbe.
Member of Parliament for Blantyre North Constituency, Francis Phiso said, together with fellow members of parliament from Zomba Chingale, Zomba Lisanjala and Machinga Likweni, they have been asking the government to prioritize the road in its budgets in vein.
He said with the absence of a good road network, farmers are failing to take their products to the market, expectant mothers dying on their way to clinics and at the same time ambulances fail to ferry patients to referral hospitals.
“Not only that, if this road is constructed, it will shorten the distance from Blantyre to Mangochi which is a tourist attraction district. This is good for the economy of our nation. On behalf of people of Blantyre North Constituency and of course from fellow constituencies where the road passes through, would like to appeal for the construction of this road,” Phiso said
His appeal was echoed by Traditional Authority Nkula of Machinga who demanded for an immediate consideration in constructing the road.
He commended CCJP for setting up task force committees to lobby and advocate for the construction of the road.
Reacting to the requests made by all concerned citizens along the Lirangwe,Chingale-Machinga road, Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Infrastructure, Victor Mbewe said government has put in place MK14 Billion in 2017/2018 budget for the construction of the road.
“I am actually sharing same concerns with communities along Lirangwe, Chingale-Machinga road. Infact, I along with some committee members have experienced the pinch of this road. It’s true, people are suffering a lot,” said Mbewe who is also an MP for Blantyre City South East constituency.
He said as a committee they will strive for the implementation and ensure proper utilization of the funds that have been set aside, so that it benefits the ordinary citizen.
However, MP for Zomba Lisanjala, Enock Luka said that, the money allocated for the construction of the road is minimal and that, the government should consider increasing as the project commences.
Meanwhile, Zomba Bishop Rt. Rev. George Desmond Tambala also challenged government to put the welfare of its people first hence ensure that the construction of the road starts immediately.
“As a Church, we are not only concerned with the spiritual aspect of a human being but also wellbeing of every person. It is for this reason that we promote good governance and rule of law to every Malawian through our commissions and CCJP being one of them,” said Bishop Tambala.
Former President, Joyce Banda once laid a foundation stone for the construction of the Lirangwe,Chingale-Machinga road after securing a MK10 Billion loan from the Kuwait fund and a camp side was already erected at Chipini along the road.
The road connects the areas of Traditional Authories (T/A) Lundu in Blantyre,Mulumbe in Zomba and Nkula in Machinga.
CCJP is implementing the Promotion of Democratic and Accountable Governance (PDAG) project where the advocacy component of the Lirangwe, Chinga-Machinga road,fall under with finding from Trocaire.
By Prince Henderson, A Contributor