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Government eyes rail, water transport

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The Tonse Alliance-led administration has made strides in efforts to revive Malawi’s water and rail transport systems, according to Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Nancy Mdooko.

She said the new administration would utilise old infrastructure that has been idle for over a decade.

After independence from British rule, Malawi invested heavily in water and rail transport infrastructures but, at the inception of multiparty democracy, more attention was given to road infrastructure.

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“It is our intention to revive rail and water transport systems because we believe that these modes of transport can help us reduce the cost of fuel as its haulage will be by ship and train, which operate at very low cost”.

“We have the facilities and we just need a little investment to get them to start operating fully,” Mdooko said.

She recently visited Chipoka Port on Lake Malawi which, she said, just needed little maintenance to work.

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Among other things, the port has a rail line that connects it to Lilongwe, Mchinji, Liwonde, Limbe and as far as the port city of Beira in Mozambique, but it is non-functional.

“Part of the rail network has already been rehabilitated and some parts are also being renovated. We have plans to repair the whole network and connect with Zambia and Mozambique,” Mdooko said in a telephone interview after visiting the site.

Earlier, Director of Marine Services Captain John Mhango said Lake Malawi had potential to facilitate water transport due to its stretch from the Northern Region, where it forms a border with Tanzania to Mangochi.

“Along its borders with Tanzania and Mozambique are points such as Kiwira, Itungi and Mbamba Bay in Tanzania and Metangula in Mozambique which, if enough investments were made, would present Malawi with the opportunity for cross border trade”, Mhango said.

Malawi has four established ports of Chilumba in Karonga District, Nkhata Bay in Nkhata Bay District, Chipoka in Salima District and Monkey Bay in Mangochi District.

The fourth port at Likoma is still under construction.

The country also has six vessels, namely MV Illala, MV Mtendere, MV Katundu, MV Karonga, MV Ufulu, Viphya tug and Pontoon.

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