A long, painful wait for Phalombe-Chitakale Road
Felia Muheya, 32, is a woman everyone would think is a complete failure.
At first, Felia failed to attain an early formal education as it was required of her. She grew up into an adult and entered into a marriage that only lasted for five years.
She went back to her parents and started her own home with two children she had borne from the failed marriage.
Felia then started a fresh fish business. However, she failed again miserably in the business which others find lucrative.
But this time Felia puts the blame for her failure to succeed in business on the Phalombe-Chitakale Road.
According to her, a huge part of her capital for the business was swallowed, chewed and regurgitated by transportation costs as she used to source her merchandise from Migowi Market in Phalombe and sold it at Chitakale Trading Centre in Mulanje.
Felia argues that the transport costs on the road are just too high for a journey of 47 Kilometers.
“We pay K1 500 from Chitakale to Phalombe Boma and pay another K 700 to Migowi. This, as claimed by minibus operators and owners, is due to the poor condition of the road. They say ‘If we must make business on this road, we must make enough money to keep repairing our buses because with the condition of the road breakdowns are common for vehicles traveling on it’,” said Muheya.
She added that travelling with goods on the road is more expensive, suggesting that a maize bag weighing 50 kilograms costs not less than K1 000 from Chitakale to Phalombe.
Another very important road for the people of Mulanje and Phalombe is the Limbe-Muloza via Midima road.
On this road, public transport costs K1 000 from Chitakale (Mulanje) to Limbe (which is a distance of about 85 Kilometers) and K1 200 the opposite direction.
Lenard Mvahiwa of Kaduya Village, T/A Kaduya in Phalombe says the diff e r ence clear ly def ines how people are being abused by being denied a good road on which they can travel comfortably at an affordable fare.
Mvahiwa believes that if the Phalombe-Chitakale road was constructed as government had planned about 10 years ago, travelling on that road would have been far cheap.
The story of Phalombe- Chitakale road has been the subject of promises by politicians. Nothing has happened.
Group Village Head Tchete of Traditional Authority Mabuka in Mulanje says she does not understand why this road has been talk of politicians for years, yet people in the two districts continue to suffer.
“Between Phalombe and Mulanje there are many villages and many citizens living along the road, and whenever they need medical services, business and whatever, they go either to Phalombe or Mulanje boma. Now imagine a pregnant woman travelling on this road; what kind of pain are we putting these women through?” she asked.
One citizen of Mulanje who is also at pains seeing the length it has taken before completion of the Phalombe-Chitakale road project is Member of Parliament for Mulanje South consti tuency, Bon Kalindo, whose constituency also shares the road.
Kalindo says he feels that people of Phalombe and Mulanje have been used by politicians for a long time by being promised a good road which they still lack today.
He said he is trying all he can in his capacity as MP to ensure that the project is completed before his 5-year tenure for the constituency expires.
“I’ll not be happy to see any other politician using this road as campaign tool just to woo votes in the 2019 polls. That’s going to be very unfair and inhumane,” he said.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila, told the Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the project which had been at a standstill was going to take shape again before the end of March this year.
“Currently government has already identified a contractor who is going to finish the work , and we have sent our recommendations to our donors (there are three donors on this) and as of now two have already given us a nod and we are just waiting for the remaining one. Once that donor gives a go ahead too, the project continues, and I can assure you that that’s going to be not later than March this year,” he said.
Chitakale – Phalombe Road if completed, would not only be of benefit to the people of the said districts in terms of business and other social economic activities but also to the whole nation as it also serves Zomba, Mangochi and Balaka districts.
Perhaps, then, Felia will have something else to blame for her failures.— Mana
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