Blantyre streets caught in worst traffic jam crisis because of closure of one main link road

By Duncan Mlanjira

There is chaos on Blantyre roads because of the closure of main link Makati Road where there is construction works from the flyover bridge over the railway line from Limbe at Cold Storage and the only reliable detour, especially for traffic to and from Ndirande, is through Blantyre Central Business District.

All motorists to and from Ndirande going to Limbe, Chilobwe, Chichiri Shopping Mall, Kanjedza, Chinyonga, Nkolokosa and other areas, now have to pass through Blantyre Clocktower and up the Chipembere Highway for those going to Ginnery Corner, Chilobwe and Limbe.

As alternative, trucks and commuter minibuses are using the dirt road that goes to Makheta along the foot of Ndirande Hill but the challenges there is that the road gets very muddy after rains and trucks get stuck thereby blocking the road for almost the whole day.

In that scenario, every motorist is forced to connect to Blantyre Clocktower at the Blantyre Girls Primary School junction for the road from Kameza. Here starts a fierce traffic jam as they join cars from Ndirande all the all the way to the Clocktower.

Unaware motorists turning back at the junction to Blantyre Water Board

It takes close to an hour to reach the Clocktower and almost another one and a half hours to reach Limbe during peak hours. Commuter minibuses have raised their fares claiming they are on recovery since the distance, especially to Limbe has increased.

Ndirande is host to a good percentage of students at schools based in Chichiri area and there have been instances that some of them have missed a good part of morning sessions of their end of term exams.

Asked if the contractor, Top Range considered that the road to Makheta could be used as a detour, why didn’t they grade the road properly to increase its width and maintain it after rains, Roads Authority spokesperson Portia Katanga said there have now made arrangements with Top Range to make a proper detour for the dirt road to Makheta.

“Staff of the contractor have today gone to inspect the condition and width of the Makhetha road. Then a decision will be made since it also involves extra money,” Kajanga said.

The bridge at the junction to Cold Storage

“We are very aware of the problems we have caused in Blantyre due to closure of Makata Road. We had planned to make a temporary bridge across Mudi River beside the Mudi bridge near Cold Storage but the whole area is a catchment area for Blantyre Water Board.  So, it’s a no go area.”

When this reporter visited the construction site on Thursday morning, there were several motorists who were turning back after discovering that the road was closed.

Kajanga said they sent announcements of the closure to warn motorists from two weeks ago in two newspapers, on state broadcaster MBC and on Zodiak Broadcasting Station. 

“But I think people missed the announcements and probably some are visitors to Blantyre. We may have to find other means, for future projects, of course.

“We are truly pushing that work on that stretch should be completed by end of this week,” she said.