Minister of Transport and Public works Jacob Hara has said government has invested K2.9 billion towards grading of the Nyika-Nthalire-Chitipa road to ensure that it is passable while the main construction project for the road continues.
Hara said this in a separate interview after he responded to a question in Parliament from Member of Parliament for Chitipa Wenya Constituency, Davis Ng’ambi, who asked government to consider grading and graveling the bad areas on the road ahead of the rainy season.
Hara said government will continue to carry out maintenance works on the road as it commits to constructing it wholesomely, disclosing that there are currently three contractors on site.
“As we had committed previously, what we are doing is; we have a contractor working from Bembe to Nthalire… they are grading, working on the black spots making them right, like spots graveling, at some spots we are going to put concrete pads to just make sure that the whole road is passable and it’s an all-weather road. This is a record kind of contract on grading because it is about K2.9 billion,” Hara said.
He however said at the moment, government has designs from Bolero up to Bembe only and that the contractor is upgrading the stretch to Asphalt level, which would be the quality of the rest of the stretch.
Hara then disclosed that government is facing problems to grade some of the roads in the country due to a shortage of graders and other earth moving equipment.
He said over the years, most of government’s construction machinery has worn out while others broke down hence the challenge.
To avert the situation, Hara said government has plans to recapitalise the Plant Vehicle Hire and Engineering Services (PVHES) so that local firms contracted to work on the various roads can hire or buy from the government institution.
“We want to make sure that as government we have the machinery that we can lend them because the bid documents require them to show that they either have them or have capacity to borrow. We feel that Malawians do not have good competing ground and so we are trying to level the play field,” Hara added.
He highlighted that the equipment in question is also expensive, a situation that favours foreign contractors who bring the equipment from their countries of origin.
In Marh this year, some concerned Chitipa residents, wearling attire made out of sack bag material, marched to Parliament to petition government to construct the 129 Kilometre road, c;aiming for years, previous governments have used the road project as a campaign tool.