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Minister stops relocation of water treatment plant

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The Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources has directed that the Garnet Halliday Water Treatment Plant in Karonga District should not be relocated, in the process overriding Northern Region Water Board (NRWB).

The board wanted the water plant, which was constructed by Paladin Africa, to be removed from the initial spot so that it could pave the way for implementation of the $26.7 million [about K19.5 billion] Karonga Town Water Supply Project.

The board had sought guidance from Karonga traditional leaders, who gave it the go-ahead to remove the plant and have it stacked at Karonga Museum.

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However, this did not go down well with some residents in the district, who threatened to hold demonstrations if the board proceeded to dismantle the plant.

As a way of resolving the matter, Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Nancy Tembo engaged the warring sides on Friday, when she resolved that the treatment plant should not be removed from the museum as earlier suggested.

“Karonga council should take charge of the plant. I would only plead with you not to let every Jim and Jack take charge of the plant because, anywhere else, water plants are very sensitive,” she said.

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This means NRWB has to go back to the drawing board and change some designs, particularly on the physical location of the designed laboratory, bearing in mind that the probable place is where the water treatment plant is.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the board James Munthali has downplayed the possibility of shifting goalposts for the project, which started in March 2021 and is expected to be completed in September this year.

“We have already used some money because we started constructing a slab at the museum but, as things stand, we will not spend any more money. The only delay that we anticipate is looking for a new place to construct our laboratories,” he said.

Paramount Chief Kyungu was happy that the issue that could potentially affect the execution of the entire project had been resolved amicably.

The Karonga Water Project is co-financed by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa with $10 million, Opec Fund for International Development with $15 million and the Government of Malawi with $1.7 million.

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