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Malawians deserve the best—Lazarus Chakwera

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LISTENING ATTENTIVELY—President Chakwera, flanked, by First Lady being briefed about the project

President Lazarus Chakwera has said Malawians should stop setting and accepting low standards for themselves, their cities, roads and the environment.

Chakwera was speaking in Lilongwe on Tuesday when he kick-started the K19 billion Kenyatta Drive expansion project which will see the road expanded from two lanes to six lanes, the first in Malawi.

He said part of the mindset change that the Tonse administration is bringing to Malawi is demanding nothing but the best of service and infrastructure.

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“The neglect that Lilongwe’s roads have suffered under past administrations is tragic, as it has robbed Malawians of development. The amount of trash we have been throwing on the streets of Lilongwe is tragic, as it has robbed Malawians of dignity.

“The amount of money in city rates we have allowed people to get away with not paying in Lilongwe is tragic, as it has robbed Malawians of dignified services. Lilongwe deserves better. As our nation’s capital, Lilongwe deserves attention. The attention that parts of Lilongwe received in the run-up to the 41st Sadc Summit is the attention it should be getting from all of us every week,” he said.

Chakwera described the six-lane project as the beginning of the Tonse administration’s quest to lift the face of Lilongwe in a manner befitting a nation’s Capital.

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“More broadly, this project is a fulfilment of my promise to build a new Malawi through job creation, wealth creation, and food security, which I said would require investments in the infrastructure of this kind as an accelerator.

“The advantages of developing a strong and beautiful network of roads within and between our urban centres are many. For a start, it eases the movement of goods, services, and people, thus stimulating economic activity. It opens new opportunities for employment and business in many sectors,” Chakwera said.

Roads Authority Board Chairperson, Joe Ching’ani, said the 3.9km stretch will be constructed to very high international standards given the traffic forecast that is expected to use the road for the next 20 years.

He, however, bemoaned delayed payment to contractors and unnecessarily long vetting processes which he said are denting the image of the government.

“Delayed payments to contractors have to be one huge headache sabotaging timely implementation and completion of road contracts. As we stand now we have contractors carrying out massive works who have been waiting for payment for three or so months,” Ching’ani said.

On vetting, he said. “When vetting takes forever and keeps Roads Authority waiting, month in, and month out, it frustrates progress. Sadly the public who do not know the reality on the ground is quick to blame the Chakwera/Chilima Administration as being slow”.

The project will be financed through a bond which the Roads Fund Administration will issue, jointly arranged by Standard Bank and Old Mutual Investment Group.

Standard Bank Malawi Chief Executive Officer, Phillip Madinga, said his bank believes that Malawi can have the quality infrastructure.

On her part, Old Mutual, Managing Director, Edith Jiya said her firm is committed to working together with the government in uplifting the quality of infrastructure in Malawi.

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