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Mulanje water project faces resistance

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Mulanje residents have asked government and Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to stick to their words if they want to see the Likhubula Water Supply Project commence.

Secretary General for the Citizens for Protection of Mulanje Mountain, David Majeweta, made the remarks after the project was officially launched on Monday in Mulanje.

“Government and BWB should not be deceived that people have forgotten about the tree planting exercise. We are going to see to it that this promise by these officials is fulfilled. The project will not start unless we see that the tree planting exercise has begun as per the agreement in our memorandum of understanding,

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“We have told our people that they should not worry about the project commencing without the tree planting exercise we will make sure they stand by their word and plant the trees” Majeweta said.

According to Majeweta, all the people want from government and BWB is to honour their commitment to plant trees so that the conservation is maintained in the area.

“We don’t want to be misunderstood that we do not want government or BWB to conduct this development, all we want is to conserve our environment. And as per our agreement we are not going to take anything less. So far, they have promised to plant trees on area of about 550 hectares from the 3,500 we agreed,” he said.

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BWB Chairpeson, James Naphambo, has said the project will benefit the people of Mulanje with employment, among other issues.

“Whatever problems we had with these people were resolved. We knew from the start that we have to consider issues of reforestation so we are going to plant the trees. This project will even benefit them because we will buy the seedlings from them and the planting will be done by us and them, so in the end, they will benefit a lot besides the water,” Naphambo said.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Hamilton Chimala, said as far as government is concerned the project is on the right track and it will succeed.

“The President has just launched the project. Blantyre Water Board has committed to its obligation with support of the principal duty bearer– government. Even before the first tree is planted someone is brewing a storm in a tea cup? We don’t know their agenda but it will not be allowed to succeed. Let us learn to celebrate success,” Chimala said.

Government has obtained a loan worth $23.5 million (about K16 billion) from Exim Bank of India to fund the project for a period of 18 months from February next year.

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