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Government assures all on course for Nsanje railway project

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In Malawi, railway transport started in Nsanje District in 1904. The train was operating between Nsanje and Chiromo. But what used to be a robust railway town at the boma has been a desolate land for years as the rail got damaged. Now the new project is igniting hope among people there.

Government says rehabilitation, upgrading, and reconstruction of the 72-kilometre stretch of the Nsanje-Marka Railway line will be completed in 18 months from June this year.

The development comes at a time when the project has taken almost a year and a half to commence after it was marred by contract tendering irregularities when it was first awarded to Mota Engil.

On Thursday, government, through the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, officially handed over the project to China Railways 20th Bureau Group Corporation, the company that was awarded the contract.

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Xiony Zongshu, China Railways Project Manager said the company is ready, both financially as well as capacity wise, to commence the project and complete it within the stipulated time.

“We have been ready for this project from way back. We are happy that the time has finally come that we have to commence the works.

“We have put in place measures that will help the work to materialise and be completed to the satisfaction of all Malawians,” he said.

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Speaking at one of the spots where the railway will pass through in Nsanje, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Transport Hastings Chiudzu said this is one of the projects that has readily available funding to see it to completion.

“Let me assure you that this is perhaps one of the projects with full funding. Funding is not a problem because the government is financing it using the local finance bond so the funds are there and we do not anticipate any financial problems.

“Let me agree with you that there were hiccups as this project should have commenced early last year. But since we relaunched the tender in December last year, you can see that within four months, we are here today with the contractor that the project should commence. We have a team of engineers and experts that will be here to ensure that any problems that are there are reduced and later on sorted out. Community members have welcomed the project,” he said.

Enelesi Waiti from Ganunga Village in Traditional Authority Malemia said she and many other community members have been anticipating the commencement of the project, which she said could change the face of the district.

Waiti, who resides in Marka where there was once a railway station, said her childhood memories are filled with times when the district was exposed and there was a vibrant life because of various activities.

“I am very happy and hopeful that life will be good again. What you see here is just nothing but bushes of what used to be a busy place,” she said.

Another citizen from the area, Eliza Ntunyika, expressed hope that the project will revive economic activities in the district.

“Both during the construction and when the project is done we are hopeful that people will find jobs and ply their business along the railway,” she said.

In his remarks during council interface meeting Friday, Nsanje District Commissioner Medison Matchaya commended government for the initiative.

“I do not think there is anyone who can say they are not happy with the project. The only concern is completion of the project. We are assured improvement of the socio-economic status of the district because of this project,” he said.

Among others, the project aims at strengthening bilateral ties between Mozambique and Malawi but also revamp the Sena line which connects Malawi to the crucial port of Beira—a move that intends to reduce the cost of transportation of goods for Malawi.

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