As the construction works on Muloza- Chiradzulu tarmac road progresses, excitement is building up among people in Chiradzulu and at the district headquarters in particular.
There is growing belief that the road, which is expected to be completed early next year, will help to enhance development at the district headquarters.
That development would then spill over to the rest of the district, so it is hoped.
Up until now, travelling between Chiradzulu Boma and Phalombe has been a nightmare not only because of the distance but largely because the road was in very bad condition.
This has had huge effect on how people run their lives, including operating their businesses.
“As businesspeople, the new road will help us greatly because it will cut short the distance from Chiradzulu to Phalombe as well as Phalombe to Blantyre,” says James Khwayi, a farmer from Chiradzulu.
That would effectively mean reduction in cost of doing business.
Besides cutting short the distance, the road is expected to complement efforts to face-lift Chiradzulu Boma, one of the district headquarters in the country which do not have much in terms of what would be expected of a seat of government in a district.
The state of affairs at the boma has had people like Traditional Authority Ntchema frowning upon the District Council secretariat for what he says its failure to come up with well-defined plans to boost development at the headquarters.
And he has a point. If you last visited the boma some 10 or 15 years ago, you could grow goose bumps to see that even today, the place wears the same old story of underdevelopment and wretchedness.
There is nothing about the place to suggest that this is the district that has such a towering piece of history for Malawi nation. This is the district that played a pioneering role in Malawi’s fight for independence. It is the home of the famous John Chilembwe uprising of 1915.
One hundred years after that uprising against colonial injustices that held back the progress of indigenous Malawians, the boma does not have a filling station such that vehicles are either fuelled in Limbe which is almost 20 kilometres away or have to fall back on supplies from the black market.
Today, as supermarkets spring up everywhere across the country in the sweep of global progress, the boma cannot point at one, its only reliable shop being one operating from a container.
Thus, for a proper shopping, residents have to travel to Limbe to buy essentials and that has implications on costs and travelling convenience.
And while many district headquarters in the country can point at several banking services which offer Malawians an array of choices, Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) is the only financial institution providing residential banking services at Chiradzulu boma.
In June this year, NBS Bank also rolled out mobile banking services which are accessible to clients every Thursday.
Then there is water crisis, a problem that has troubled the district headquarters for ages affecting operations of the magnificent Chiradzulu District Hospital, one of the largest in the Southern region.
This is why the road under construction inspires hope.
The road runs from Mulanje through Phalombe to Chiradzulu and connects to Limbe in Blantyre.
One of the residents at the boma, Chris Nawata, observes that Chiradzulu is “very significant to the history of this country”.
“But its infrastructure development at the boma does not befit the historical and social significance of the district,” he notes.
Nawata hopes that once completed, the road will expose the boma to various developments. It will see increased traffic through the district headquarters, for example. Some of these travellers, he says, would be making a stopover at the boma, a situation that would see growth of economic activities.
District Commissioner Ali Phiri also says the development spin-offs from the road will complement the initiatives that the council is undertaking to facelift the district headquarters.
The council has secured a K133 million grant from the Local Development Fund (LDF) to construct a modern office block under the urban window component.
The office block, according to Phiri, will ensure that all government departments operate under one roof.
This infrastructure will add to the 300-bed state-of-the-art district hospital, an imposing structure on the landscape of the boma.
“This will add weight in face-lifting the boma,” Phiri says. “This district has a rich history. Chiradzulu boma ought to be a place where life should be easier and exciting for residents.”
Only 20 kilometres is left to complete the over 80-km road. The closer the project gets towards completion, the closer it gets to see whether people’s expectations are fulfilled.
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