The various ground breaking ceremonies that President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has presided over in the past months are not mere political stunts, but real projects which are off the ground.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, said this when he held a press briefing in Lilongwe on Wednesday to give an update on the status of various initiatives that government is undertaking through the ministry.
The Minister said contrary to what people are saying and what has been reported in the media, the ground breaking ceremonies that have taken place are indeed a signal of commencement of real projects and not just a show-off.
“As government, we will only go ahead to do a ground breaking ceremony when money for that particular project is available and a contractor has been identified and procured. And in most of these projects, we do the ground breaking when the work has started already,” explained Mhango.
He cited the construction of dual carriageway between parliament roundabout and Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Njakwa-Livingstonia Road, the Blantyre bypass road and dualisation of the Chileka-Clock Tower Road as some of the projects which were already underway by the time they were unveiled.
The Minister said they are committed to transform the transport sector in the country, knowing that for the economy to thrive, it will directly hinge on the quality of the country’s transport system.
He said government has developed a National Transport Master Plan (NTMP) to be implemented over 20 years from 2017 to 2037 which will guide the development of a sustainable multi-modal transport sector in the country.
Mhango said: “Among other things, the plan seeks to reduce transport costs by shifting traffic from road to rail and in-land water transport along Malawi’s major corridors of Dar es Salaam, Nacala, Beira and Mtwara.”
“There will also be upgrading of 1,400 kilometres of rural roads targeting agriculture and tourism sectors, strengthening and establishing a multi-modal transport network and connectivity plus strengthening regulation through establishment of regulatory bodies,” added.
The Master Plan, the first of its kind, will cost a total of $9.15 billion over the 20 year period and the minister said government intends to seek support from its development partners and private sector financiers for its implementation.
He said there is good progress made on a number of road construction projects which are already underway like the Zomba-Jali-Phalombe-Chitakale, Thyolo-Thekelani-Muona-Makhanga, and Liwonde-Mangochi roads.
Other notable roads which are also more than 50 per cent complete are the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay, Lumbadzi-Dowa-Chezi, Lilongwe-Old Airport-Kasiya-Santhe, Jenda-Edingeni and the Njakwa-Livingstonia roads.