K100 billion and more
I was not really surprised to hear the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) saying the other day that it would cost about K100 billion for the post-Cyclone Freddy-induced disaster recovery process, that would see those that are staying in camps returning to their old or new homes, with the Commissioner for Disaster, Charles Kalemba, pointing out that there will still be others, like those from Makhanga in Nsanje District, that would remain behind in camps until a new location is identified for them since where they had originally settled is a disaster-prone area.
I know some of you might think that this topic is boring but what I can tell you is that the happenings of the past month have shown that life is a precious gift that we often do take for granted but that ‘delicate’ gift can easily be taken away in a blink of an eye, just like we witnessed when the Cyclone Freddy-induced disaster struck. If we must, let us try to live life fully and make the best of it while we still can and remain grounded at all times. If you do find time, get to read a poem titled ‘Desiderata’ and there is also a song by the very same title.
Anyway, we are talking about the recovery process in the aftermath of the Cyclone Freddy-Induced disaster so I need not deviate. While we are on it, hats off to President Lazarus Chakwera, who through his charity initiative, this week donated K120 million to Dodma for the cause. The money was raised through a golf tournament and those spearheading the initiative have also pledged to hold another tournament either in September or October this year. But that alone will not cut it; we need to have everyone chip in and therefore companies and individuals that have been giving whole-heartedly should continue supporting the cause. In fact, it might even cost more than the estimated K100 billion which Dodma has mentioned.
Perhaps to appreciate the extent of the problem far from the household front, one just needs to look around and see the number of roads and bridges that were damaged and you would agree that the money being mentioned is just a drop in the ocean. In fact, it was quite surprising to see Capital Hill trimming its budget when some of us thought that the national budget would hit sky high, owing to this disaster that befell the country.
And in all this, there are still some crooked individuals allegedly going around soliciting humanitarian assistance in the name of assisting victims of the Cyclone Freddy-induced disaster and once they get it, they disappear into thin air. This must be condemned and our security agencies should step up their game to ensure that such phony characters are flushed out and made to pay for trivializing the emergency. How can someone with a brain be doing such responsible acts when there are thousands of people in those hard-to-reach areas that were cut off who are yet to access assistance?
Add to the mix the threat posed by the Cholera outbreak. As we speak, the number have again started rising, raising fears that things might take a bad turn following the return of those who were affected by cyclone to their old settlements. We are far from being out of the woods just yet. No wonder even the international humanitarian community, led by the United Nations, is hinting that the country would need around K120 billion to fully recover from the twin problems of cyclone and Cholera; I am hoping Dodma has b o r r o w e d the cue from there.
What is certain is; we will need more than K100 billion to get everything in place.
Good job Escom, Blantyre Water Board!
Sometimes it just becomes customary to pile accusations on some of the parastatals we have around for doing a bad job and while at it, forget to acknowledge the small victories such entities record on the side.
What am I getting at? When the Cyclone Freddy-induced disaster struck, it caused a lot of damage to Escom and Blantyre Water Board (BWB)’s infrastructure such that for a good couple of week, people had to make do without running taps in their homes and if you had electricity during that time, then you had to count yourself lucky.
Now at least the situation seem to have stabilized as the two institutions worked round the clock to ensure that supply is restored at the soonest, though I know there are some locations where people are yet to have water and power supply restored. As Escom’s Public Relations Manager said the other day, things have stabilized but there is still a lot of work and rightly so because we expect our public-run companies to do more than just enough.
But for now, here is to you, Escom and BWB!
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).