Parliament Wednesday passed a bill authorising the Ministry of Finance to receive a grant worth K63 billion and loan amounting to K2 billion from the African Development Bank (ADF) for the rehabilitation of the M5 (lakeshore) road which has been in bad state for several past years.
The African Development Fund (Sadc Sub-Regional Transport and Trade Facilitation Project) Loan Authorisation Bill was welcomed by both sides of the august House, with lawmakers agreeing that the road in question has been a death trap due to its bad state.
Finance and Economic Planning Minister Sosten Gwengwe stressed Wednesday that the grant has no conditions attached.
He, however, said the loan will be repaid in 32 years with a grace period of six years, making it 38 years.
“I want to emphasise, Madam Speaker, that the bill I am presenting to the House has a component of K2 billion for a loan and K63 billion for grant without any condition,” Gwengwe told the House Wednesday.
He said the main objective of the project is to improve the provision of transport services which, in turn, would support economic activities such as agriculture and fisheries.
According to the minister, the first component includes the construction of climate-resilient physical infrastructure, main road and feeder roads for the 155-kilometre Kaphatenga road in Salima District to Dwangwa in Nkhotakota District.
He added that the work, which includes the construction of bridges, would reduce travel time, vehicle operating costs and improve road safety.
Speaking on behalf of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Thyolo Central Member of Parliament Ben Phiri and United Democratic Front’s lawmaker for Mangochi South Lilian Patel said they were in support of the bill.
Phiri said the DPP could not stand against the idea of borrowing, indicating that it is the kind of borrowing that his party would like to see happening.
“We are okay with it. We do not have a problem with that because the African Development Bank has a credible reputation world over. It is a bank that funded the Liwonde- Mangochi Road, which is one of the magnificent roads in Malawi.
“We are encouraging the government to venture more into such developments than engaging dobadobas [crooks],” he told journalists.
In August this year, the House gave the government the go-ahead to borrow K20.5 billion from the Opec Fund of the International Development Bank for rehabilitation of the same road.
Gwengwe Wednesday said road rehabilitation works are being funded by the government, Opec Fund and ADF.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.