A week before and during rehabilitation works on Saturday
* The road is also important access road for Malabada Health Centre’s ambulance
* This comes a week after constituents petitioned MP Mkumba of negligence for the road’s collapse
* MP Mkumba contends the road will probably cost K900 million to upgrade to bitumen standard
By Duncan Mlanjira
Though it was a welcome development, Ndirande Malabada residents felt a bit cheated when the government rehabilitated the main and busiest access tarmac road from Chimseu trading centre to the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) residential neighborhood in under 24 hours — just to accommodate President Lazarus Chakwera’s visit for prayers at Archbishop Mark Kambalazaza’s Charismatic Redeemed Church.
This comes a week after concerned constituents petitioned their Member of Parliament, Ishmael Mkumba, accusing him of negligence over the collapse of this road, which is also an important access for Malabada Health Centre — next to Kambalazaza’s church — whose ambulance plies along this stretch on several trips each day.
The road was in such a bad state that the concerned constituents decided to arouse the attention of the MP through the petition — which perceived him of negligence despite being reported on on numerous occasions.
On Friday evening, a grader arrived on its way to the dirt road after the MHC community — commonly known as Malaysia — to level it, which residents argued that it should have been left in its bad state for the President to appreciate the challenges people face in the area in as far as road network is concerned
In their petition, the concerned citizens said they had been receiving “an overwhelming number of complaints from community members, all expressing dissatisfaction over the service delivery as compared to other constituencies”.
Thus their decision to write the petition as well as launching an inquiry into two pressing issues affecting their daily livelihood — the poor road condition and the community development fund (CDF).
They had said the potholed road was enough evidence of negligence on the part of the people responsible for maintaining it and other road networks.
The tarmac ends at Malaysia MHC community and branches west for access to the area’s main graveyard as well as the Green Malata Primary School. It also branches to the east as an access to Ndirande Hill Secondary School, the Charismatic Redeemed Church and the Malabada Health Centre administered by the Blantyre Synod of the CCAP Church.
When contacted for his comment on the petition, MP Mkumba welcomed the people’s concerns, saying he has “always encouraged that the people should know how the government works” and explained that CDF funds are not meant to rebuild roads but as a stand-alone project by the Ministry, Roads Fund Administration or the respective Council.
Mkumba emphasized that MPs do not have the mandate or authority to construct roads, saying Malabada will benefit in this Financial Year budget on two roads — Makhatha-Kambalazaza at K3 billion and Mateyela-Anglican-Chinseu Road at K700 million.
“We fought hard to have these two roads approved, it’s only 4 MPs out of the 8 Blantyre MPs who get roads this year. So we are lucky and it is sad to hear that the people are not satisfied.
“This Malaysia Road will probably cost K900 million to upgrade to bitumen standard. MPs were only given a CDF of K52 million, which cannot afford these sums for roads also it is not permissible to use the CDF as of now to construct roads.
“People really have to become aware of how the government works, then we would move together,” he had said.
But the people were incredulous that the authorities can fund for the temporary rehabilitation in under 24 hours working throughout the night on the access road on which they just filled up the big potholes with gravel and flattened the surface.
Once it rains heavily the gravel on the gradient towards Ndirande Hill will most likely be washed away rendering it back to its bad state.
Commenting on Facebook, Kondwanie Chirembo said: “The more things change, the more they remain the same! The year was 2001 and Bakili was president.
“As an engineer in the City of Blantyre, I lived and breathed fixing roads before the President came! Resources are never spared for this activity proving that it’s about resource allocation not scarcity!”
Mateyu Sisya asked where the funds were drawn from for this special arrangement, saying: “Was it really planned that this road will be rehabilitated in this time? What hypocrisy. Akanausiya attended mu ma drum hole momwemo.”