President Lazarus Chakwera Tuesday kick-started rehabilitation works on a 302km stretch of the M1 Road with a strong warning to contractors against giving Malawians shoddy work.
Chakwera told four contractors working on the four stretches of the road project that those who know that they are lazy and provide substandard work must not go anywhere near the project site.
“If anyone even tries to steal or abuse these funds, we have systems in place to catch them, and if you are caught, there will be zero mercy for you. So, I urge all stakeholders to be painstaking in insisting that all funds be accounted for,” Chakwera said.
The rehabilitation of the M1 Road starts from Kamuzu International Airport Turns-off in Lilongwe to Chiweta in Karonga.
M1 Road rehabilitation works will be carried out with financial support, to the tune of 135 million Euros (about K145 billion), from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The Malawi leader said the fact that the rehabilitation of the M1 Road has been neglected for years, despite offers of help from development partners, shows that previous administrations had been paying attention to things that divide Malawi rather than those that unite it.
He hailed the partnership with the European Union and EIB, describing it as the model partnership that Malawi would like to see, moving into the future.
According to Chakwera, apart from social projects, development partners need to support infrastructure projects that will leave a mark in Malawi.
“It makes no sense for Malawi to have development partners who cannot point to a single development project they have supported or are supporting in the country. If you are a development partner, your partnership must have ongoing development projects to show for it,” Chakwera said.
Transport Minister Jacob Hara said poor road conditions have claimed lives of people who would have contributed to the development of the country.
According to Hara, this is the first time in many years that a government is embarking on rehabilitating a very big stretch of road up to 300kms, saying past administrations could only do piecemeal works of between 5km and 10km.
European Investment Bank Regional Representative for Southern Africa Jim Hodges said the bank is happy to partner Malawi in rehabilitating the road.
Hodges described the project as EIB’s largest single investment in Malawi.
The project has been divided into four areas, with the first one from the KIA junction to Kasungu. The second stretch will run from Kasungu to Jenda, with the third stretch running from Jenda to the Mzimba Turn-off. The final stretch will be from Kacheche to Chiweta.