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Chief asks for replacement of MV Ilala

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Traditional Authority (TA) Mkumpha of Likoma Island has asked government to consider replacing MV Ilala, in light of fears that the aged ship may cause a disaster.

The ship, which has a capacity of 360 passengers and 100 metric tons of goods, has been sailing on Lake Malawi since 1951 and is the only reliable means of transport for people on the island.

Mkumpha spoke during an extraordinary full council meeting, attended by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa.

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He said the priority need for people of Likoma District at the moment is a new vessel that can safely sail between Likoma and Nkhata Bay and relieve the old MV Ilala.

“The cry of my people from both Likoma and Chizumulu islands is that they need a new ship. The Ilala is old and it has outlived its usefulness and needs to be retired.

Otherwise, she will bring us disaster next time,” Mkumpha said.

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The MV Ilala has been undergoing maintenance since January 19 this year and Malawi

Shipping Company is relying on a smaller vessel, MV Chilembwe, which has limited capacity to serve people on the islands and others along the lake. The situation has forced some travellers between Nkhata Bay and Likoma districts to sail in small private owned boats that are often overwhelmed, in terms of capacity and adverse weather conditions.

Nankhumwa said government will look into the matter since water transportation is the only means of transport for the people on the island.

Commenting on other development issues on the island, Nankhumwa said it is high time that ring fenced project funds became “a little flexible” to address actual needs of the districts.

He cited the bus depot construction project as another development that does not address the critical need of people on the island

“A district like Likoma has no need for bus depots. All they need is a good boat that can carry passengers and goods safely and effectively between Likoma and Nkhata Bay,” Nankhumwa said.

In distributing the national cake (funding), government currently uses population as a formula which puts the island district at a disadvantage as she has around 14,700 people.

Likoma District Commissioner Peter Jimusole observed that due to the transportation challenges, some people refuse to work in the district.

“Some employees posted to Likoma refuse to come. Some have even tendered their resignation after being posted here because they do not want to work in Likoma,” Jimusole said.

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