By Samuel Kalimira:
Government through Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has said they are yet to secure $20 million (K14.6 billion) funding to be used to construct a state-of-the-art Mzuzu International Airport at Lusangadzi area in Mzimba North East Constituency.
The development contradicts former ministers of Finance and Transport and Public Works Goodall Gondwe and Jappie Mhngo respectively who since 2017 have been saying funds are available for compensation of communities surrounding the project’s area for the project to commence.
In 2018/19 National Budget, the ministry allocated funds towards commencement of the project and in one of the assignments President Peter Mutharika held in the Northern Region, he toured the site to launch the project.
The communities were also told to stop their farming activities and other developments on the land as government said it is going to relocate them to pave the way for the development.
However, speaking in an interview yesterday, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Davie Sado said the project failed to commence last financial year because the funds which were allocated for the project were in form of loan which was yet to be secured.
“In 2018/19, we factored in some resources in the form of the loan to be secured but that never materialised because we were supposed to compensate the communities before the actual project started. Now, the assessment was done by responsible ministry, land is ready and what is remaining is to secure resources for the project,” Sado said.
He said, in 2019/20 National Budget, government will consider allocating some resources towards the project saying government is serious with implementation of the project.
When asked if the project will start this year, Ministry of Transport and Public Works spokesperson James Chakwera said: “Let us wait for this year’s national budget and see how government has allocated the funds for the project.”
He said evaluation assessment indicated that government will cough around K1 billion to compensate the communities to start developing the area.
Chakwera concurred with Sado that the communities have not yet started receiving their compensation because the funds are not available.
However, one of the affected people Mavuto Mwanza accused government of making premature decision by stopping people from doing farming activities since July 2017 to pave the way for a project which is not materialising.
“They stopped us constructing houses, farming and other developments claiming the land belongs to government. Now we are saying let them remove their beacons so that we can now start working on the land. It is sad that they promised us that people will start receiving their compensation by January this year,”
Airport Development Limited Company Secretary and Head of Administration Grace Hiwa refused to comment on the matter saying they are not part of the project’s development.
Mzuzu International Airport is among major developments which Democratic Progressive Party government promised to implement in the Northern Region.
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