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Counting benefits of new Teacher’s Training College

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By Joel Chirwa:

RELAXATION — Construction workers take time off to buy something from businesswomen

Roosters crow at the crack of the dawn to mark the beginning of another bright day.

This marks the melting away of the long night which was preceded by another tiresome day for construction workers who are busy building Rumphi Teacher’s Training College (TTC).

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The emerging sun sprinkles its golden rays on the eastern side amid melodious sounds chirped by the wild birds to greet the fledgling day.

Construction workers clad in blue overalls, gumboots and crash helmets make their way to one of departure points on a road stretch from Rumphi to Bolero for a lift to Phalasito, the construction site.

The site is a hive of activity with a din of construction vehicles and concrete mixtures, revs of graders, roar of bulldozers and clinking of building equipment as builders remove rough edges of cement bricks.

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Not so long ago, some sceptics and critics derided the activities that involved the clearing of the site by construction vehicles as a window dresser that would soon dry up like morning dew.

But with building structures such as lecture rooms, hostels and laboratories springing up across the site, the sceptics are now acknowledging that this infrastructure development is for real.

According to Project Manager Mackenzie Nkhwazi of SR Nicholas Construction Company, 50 percent of the work has been done.

“Construction work is on course despite the drawbacks we had at the start of the work in January last year when some former residents of the site refused to leave the area, hence delaying us,” Nkhwazi says.

The project is being funded by Malawi Government and a consortium of donors, namely Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa Opec Fund for International Development and Social Fund for Development.

Government is contributing $3 million (over K2.1 billion) while the consortium of donors will cough out $8 million (over K5.8 billion) towards the project expected to be completed in 2020.

Meanwhile, structures such as classrooms, hostels, laboratories and special needs learning blocks have already sprung up.

The transformation of Mzuzu TTC to Mzuzu University in the 1990s meant that the Northern Region remained with Karonga TTC, thereby causing students from Rumphi to travel long distance.

Therefore, the new TTC will ease travel costs incurred by people of Rumphi when selected to study at Karonga TCC as most of them will now be selected to the new TTC closer to home.

Rumphi TTC will also enable the country to train more teachers and reduce the pupil-teacher ratio

“Most primary schools in rural areas do not have enough staff. We hope the establishment of Rumphi TTC will eventually assist in resolving that challenge,” says Christina Ghumbo from Kayiwale Village.

Phalasito is about five kilometres from Rumphi Boma. But despite its proximity, the area has been lacking many amenities such piped water and electricity despite overhead power lines passing through the area to distant places.

Now people of Phalasito and surrounding areas are optimistic that the new TTC will attract many social services to the area.

Noel Zyayuka Mkandawire, from Senior Village Head Chikazinga, says the TTC will entice Northern Region Water Board to expand its water supply system to the area.

“Now we believe that with the TTC within our area, we will get piped water as well as electricity,” says Mkandawire, a secondhand shoes vendor.

Acting Senior Village Head Chikazinga is also excited at the progress at the construction site where over 600 people from the area have found employment.

“We never imagined that we would have a project of this magnitude considering the remoteness of our area.

“People from this area are now being employed and, obviously, some will also get long-term jobs after the construction,” Chikazinga says.

He adds that life had been tough for people of Phasito and surrounding areas as most of them did not have disposable income.

“We were forced to travel a distance of five kilometres to Rumphi Boma just to get our basic needs.

“But this will now be a thing of the past as many businesses will follow the TCC and enable us to get all our needs right here,” he says.

The project has not only provided employment to the surrounding communities but also facilitated the sprouting of small-scale entrepreneurs that are selling foodstuffs to construction workers.

“As a remote area, it was difficult for us, women, to start small-scale businesses. We had to depend on our husbands to provide us with basic needs.

“Now things have completely changed. We are able to make money on our own by selling snacks to construction workers,” says Florence Kaunda of Kayiwale Village in Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe.

To this effect, Chikazinga believes the small-scale business characterised by sales of snacks to construction workers will eventually grow into big enterprises after the TTC is opened and spur socio-economic growth of the area.

“I envision that our area will not be the same. We hope to have a fully fledged trading centre where there will be stores, groceries, public market for various items and perishables as well as a clinic,” Chikazinga says. — Mana

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