Well, I expected the government to come up with an immediate solution. Instead, it is busy talking about the future. For instance, it has indicated that it is weighing several options, including abandoning the bridge completely and building a new one in a suitable place.
I cannot stop shaking my head as I play and replay what Hara said, to the effect that “Chapananga Bridge was constructed on a very wrong place and it was mainly to do with political interference. But if engineers were left to have their way, that bridge could have been constructed way up, upstream, where the river is passable.
If we continue to cling to that section, we will continue experiencing wash-aways and it will become very expensive for this country to continue maintaining that bridge on that river. I am afraid we may have to abandon that bridge, abandon that site completely, go to a different place where we could have a lasting solution. However, I have left that to the engineers to look at the possibility, do a cost-benefit analysis of moving away from that site against doing whatever we could do to make sure that we repair that bridge there. They will advise us on what best to do.”
Of course, I am not the only one shaking my head, as Mulanje Bale lawmaker Victor Musowa is also of the opinion that the engineers that did the job, as well as the politicians, should be taken to task.
They cannot put the nation in such a fix, a fix that has inconvenienced the people who depend on that bridge— who now have to go through Mwanza or Mozambique on their way to Chapananga.
For your information, Chapananga can best be described as the hub of economic activity for the people who use the bridge to get to Chapananga. They sell maize and other crop produce there. They sell livestock there. They buy crop produce and livestock there.
And, of course, they drink beer and make merry there.
As such, any inconvenience caused by Chapananga Bridge sets in motion a set of problems; problems the people of Chikwawa are being made to shoulder alone. Yes, ordinary people continue to bear the brunt of that ill-advised decision, yet, the engineers who ill-advised the government to build the bridge in a wrong place. resulting in the waste of billions of Kwacha, are still working for the misled government.
I was, therefore, disappointed to hear Hara say there are no plans to take the engineers to task because, in the first place, they advised the government that the bridge was at the wrong place but government officials, for political reasons, did not listen.
Fine and well, but what about the government leaders that did not listen? Action, or lack of it, is an indication of the government’s carefree nature on issues of this nature.
And, talking about politicians’ self-centredness; way back, which is between April 2012 and May 2014, former president Joyce Banda launched the National Youth Service in Neno District.
The programme was billed as the next big thing in Malawi and political zealots, and all those that clap hands at each and everything the governing elite do, waxed lyrical about how Malawi was positioned to reap the fruits of using youths, who are in a productive age group.
Fine and well but, as happens with politicians, the political party that took over power from Joyce Banda’s People Party [I am talking about the Democratic Progressive Party] did not continue with that initiative.
And Malawians moved on.
Until rumour started going round that the initiative would be brought back to the table.
Riled, on July 11 2022, Youth and Society Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka thought he would pump some reason into politicians’ heads by pointing at the gaps those intending to launch the programme had to fill before going ahead with the launch of the initiative.
For instance, he wanted the government to conduct thorough consultations with stakeholders before getting neck-high into the programme. Kajoloweka indicated that it was absurd for the government to hurry in launching the initiative when, in his words, no consultations were done. “Take, for example, the Youth Development Fund initiative. It failed to catch steam after it was rolled out without views of players in the sector,” he said, warning those with the joystick not to advance political expediency ideas that would end up taking Malawians into a failed path again.
“If properly implemented, NYS is a good initiative that will help the youth of this nation. We are saddened, however, to note that the government has set the month of July for the launch of a thing that has not been scrutinised properly. It is our plea that the government should not launch the NYS until proper consultations are done,” Kajoloweka said. Well, he got no response from the Ministry of Youth.