M1’s Chingeni-Zalewa stretch closed for heavy vehicles

Also destroyed is road to Chikwawa from Blantyre

* Cyclone Ana described as the biggest disaster to hit Malawi

* It is worse than Cyclone Idai which hit the nation in 2020

By Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express & Lydia Maganga, MANA

The stretch from Chingeni to Zalewa along the Blantyre to Lilongwe M1 Road, has been closed for heavy vehicles to allow for repair works at Chingodzi Trading Centre, which is 3kms from Kam’mwamba towards Chingeni.

Repair works in progress

The Road Authority was replacing culverts at this location but faced setback on Sunday when the lane which was open for traffic collapsed.

In a statement, the Roads Aithority said only light vehicles are allowed to pass through at the location and thus advises heavy vehicles to use Zomba to Liwonde and Balaka up to Chingeni and vice versa.


Tropical Cyclone Ana, which hit the country hard on January 24-25 that caused floods in most parts of the Southern Region, destroyed roads, bridges, homes and electricity power lines.

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has described Tropical Cyclone Ana as the biggest disaster to hit Malawi, saying it is worse than Cyclone Idai which hit the nation in 2020.

The Department’s Commissioner, Charles Kalemba said the rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Ana registered over 400 millimeters in 24 hours that caused a lot of damage to houses, roads and infrastructure while Cyclone Idai registered about 250 millimeters of rain in three days.

Kalemba made the remarks in Chikwawa on Saturday where DoDMA is working on the ground to help people that have been affected by the natural disaster and also assess the current situation.

“Where we are right now in Chikwawa, almost every village has been affected; the road infrastructure is completely damaged and most people are housed in camps.

“The situation was unprecedented; a lot of people this year obliged and moved to the higher grounds, unfortunately the rains were just so heavy that the water even reached the higher grounds and swept the houses.” said.

Kalemba said roads have been cut off, rendering passing to the other side almost impossible — stressing that Tropical Cyclone Ana has probably caused the worst disaster in the Lower Shire.

Also affected was power generation plants for for Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) at Kapichira and Nkula that forced EGENCO its sister company ESCOM to shut down their machines that plunged the Southern Region and other parts of the country into power blackout from Monday evening to protect intake structures from damage.


EGENCO and ESCOM are still rationing power supply up until water levels are down for safe operation of other machines.

DoDMA Commissioner Kalemba further said there is need for roads to be reconstructed as soon as possible so that transportation of relief items could be eased and also observed that currently, DoDMA is using boats and aeroplanes to transport relief items.

He, however, expressed optimism with the way well-wishers have come forth to help people who have been displaced and are living in camps.

“I must say since the President declared as state of disaster in the districts that have been affected by the floods and heavy rains, we have received positive response from well-wishers.”

Timely intervention by Malawi Relief Fund UK

He also commended Malawi Government, Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and Gift of the Givers for their assistance from the day the cyclone hit the area.

Malawi Red Cross Society director of programmes, Prisca Chisala said they have managed to distribute tents, buckets, soap, and CoVID-19 protective gears to the affected to help ease the situation.

Chisala said MRCS is also working with government in the search and rescue operation to help rescue those that were swept away by the floods and those missing.

Currently, 107, 000 households have been affected, 25 have died, three people are missing and 1,150 people have been injured.

The most affected districts are Chikwawa, Nsanje, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje, Phalombe, Zomba, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Dedza and Mchinji.

Also affected in Chikwawa are some construction structures of Shire Valley Transformation Project but the Ministry of Agriculture assures the public of speedy continuation of construction works.

In a statement from Secretary for Agriculture, Sandram Maweru the project’s intake structure foundation at Kapichira Dam was intact but a structure which had been partially damaged is a section of the 750-meter siphon which connects the intake and the main canal.

All critical structures are intact including the flume, siphon, culverts and the main canal and together with contractor, Conduril, the Ministry will carry out detailed assessment of the damage once the water levels drop and the site is accessible.

Maweru stressed that construction of the intake structure was at foundation stage together with two yet-to-be-completed superstructures of front wing walls. However, one incomplete wing wall was damaged.