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Area 24 bemoans upgraded road

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Residents of Area 24 in Lilongwe have described the upgrading of the location’s road as substandard following potholes and ragged shoulders that have developed even before a year has elapsed.

The residents wondered why the upgrading of the road ends at Area 24 Trading Centre and not at ZBS as the contract had indicated.

In an interview with Mana on Friday, one of the residents, Sandram Dausi, said they felt cheated because they had expected a road of high standard that run from M1 Road at NCIC passing through Area 24 Market to ZBS not what they have at present.

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“We are thankful to the government that through Lilongwe City Council, our road was among those considered for upgrading, but we are not happy with the quality of work that the contractor did,” he lamented.

Dausi added: “The so-called tarmac ends at Area 24 Market, from there to ZBS, the contractor just compacted and levelled the gravel road.”

He said most of the job, especially the application of the said tarmac, was done manually which he described as lack of proper equipment on the part of the contractor.

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But while admitting to have used manual labour on the construction of the road, the contractor, Plem Construction Company, said in an interview it was the type of the road upgrading works that demanded such labour.

Plem’s Site Agent, Burnet Rodgers Ngoma, said in Malawi, there were no slurry machines and instead contractors rely on manual labour when construction works reach that stage.

“Slurry seal is usually done manually using what we call squiggles. The upgrading of Area 24 Road was highly affected by the rainy season and we did not complete it as there is one more layer remaining which we will do by next week,” he said.

Plem construction foreman, Jerson Msachi, said the Area 24 Road was a slurry seal road which can last up to 25 years when completed with all required features such as drainage.

Lilongwe City Council spokesperson, Tamara Chafunya, admitted in an interview that the Area 24 Road was supposed to reach as far as ZBS covering a distance of 2.69km, but she said the funds allocated for the project were not disbursed in full.

“In the 2016/2017 financial year, the government allocated K2.5 billion for the rehabilitation of selected roads. However, only K2.2 billion was provided which meant we had to reduce some distances on the roads we were working on in the said financial year,” she disclosed.

Chafunya pointed out that funds had since been made available and the remaining section would be given the required attention.

“It’s just unfortunate that the road has since developed potholes, we have noted that and it’s mostly so because the road had not completed drainage works and in some cases there were only earth drains.

“The concerns were also noted by other stakeholders such as the Roads Fund Administration,” she explained.

Chafunya added that K600 million had since been allocated for additional works in order to give the roads a longer lifespan.

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