It now appears that no matter which way one looks in our towns and cities, you are most likely to be greeted by filth; be it uncollected garbage or broken sewer pipes emitting pungent smell. What is infuriating is that these things are happening despite the efforts and commitment demonstrated by leaders in having a clean environment.
Hang on a minute! There is more. Driving around in some of the townships leaves one with a bitter after taste, owing to the poor workmanship by some of the contractors engaged now and again by our ‘good and most noble’ city and district councils to carry out maintenance work. One even wonders how such out-of-sorts contractors are entertained year after year to be anywhere near our roads.
In fact, a majority of drivers, just like we saw the other day in the capital city Lilongwe, have now mastered the art of dodging potholes that have condemned many cars too early to the junk yards. So pathetic is the situation such that driving on these roads is no longer fun and it has almost become akin to playing a game on a draughts board. Drivers in the capital city have involuntarily qualified for PhDs (Pothole Dodgers) as it is no child’s play maneuvering around the poodles that have mushroomed on most roads during the rainy season.
It is with all of the above in mind that I am left to wonder as to why we even bothered to elect councillors who are supposed to be checking these things and championing developmental initiatives at council level. When we did not have councillors in place, all the blame went to members of Parliament whom we had even accused of overstretching their mark in as far as interfering with development is concerned. Now that the councillors are in town, there really should not be any excuse and there is no reason why our roads should be in a deplorable state as is the case with most of Lilongwe’s roads.
That is not to say that Blantyre or Mzuzu is any better. All one needs to do in the commercial city is to walk in locations such as Bangwe Township, Manja, Ndirande and Machinjiri and you will be glad to have hoofed instead of riding anything on wheels. There are gullies in the middle of what’s left of some ‘tarred’ roads.
Much as the councillors should take the flack, the real question should be; how vibrant are our systems within the councils, that is, minus the politician? We have whole Departments of Planning and Development, Engineering, Environmental Health, Administration etc in councils but clearly, those working in such offices are too blinded to see what both you and I can see. I doubt if at all the systems and structures in our councils are vibrant and functional.
The other day somebody entreated a word in my ear that the reason why even councillors in our cities seem to be obscured from the scene is that there is no clear synchronizing of work between the council and the councillors, such that in some areas, there even are no development committees. How then can these councils give us the best with such scenarios?
It is time both councillors and those working in council secretariats started earning their keep by giving us quality service and not the mockery we are subjected to.
Stroll in the park
If one were to sum up President Lazarus Chakwera’s appearance in Parliament this past Wednesday, then ‘a stroll in the park’ would be the best description. Save for one or two questions, the rest of what I heard there was not inspiring at all. I mean, I for one expected the legislators to take to task the first citizen on issues that are bothering the ordinary person such as;
– why the government is failing to tame its insatiable appetite for spending in the face of economic turbulence.
– When will the administration demonstrate to Malawians that it is serious in improving the welfare of women and children by ridding the country of sexual predators, who, by the way, are committing defilement and rape cases like nobody’s business?
– How many new factories/ companies have been created to push the job creation agenda and indeed boost our small scale entrepreneurs?
But no, this is Malawi where some legislators can afford to stay in the National Assembly for years on end and not even once raise up their voice or stand to be counted for the sake of the people that sent them to the august House. Kudos to those that chose to ask their questions; at least you attempted so on that account, you have given us hope that things could be better. Otherwise, the first citizen must have thoroughly enjoyed what most would regard as a ‘routine’ exercise.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).