President Peter Mutharika has said the long-awaited construction of Nsanje World Inland Port on the Shire River would resume once the government gets approval from Mozambique.
Mutharika said this Sunday when he visited development projects in Nsanje and Chikwawa districts.
“The construction of the port awaits the approval of our brothers in Mozambique. We are engaging them and the moment they give us the go-ahead, we will start right away,” he said.
The port project, which was the brainchild of Mutharika’s late brother, Bingu, flopped after the Mozambican government demanded a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment before its implementation.
Bingu inaugurated Nsanje Inland Port on October 23 2010, the terminus of the ambitious Shire-Zambezi waterway that links Malawi, via 238 kilometres of river, to the Mozambique port of Chinde.
The waterway was expected to lower transport costs and reduce Malawi’s annual import bill by an estimated $175 million, according to a study conducted in 2005.
The then Zambia president Rupiah Banda and Robert Mugabe (deceased) of Zimbabwe attended the inauguration ceremony but the barge that was supposed to be making its way up the river carrying 60 tonnes of fertiliser by way of a trial failed to arrive in Nsanje after Mozambican authorities impounded it on grounds that an economic feasibility study and an environmental impact assessment had not yet been completed for the project.
On the campaign trail in the run up to 2014 elections, Mutharika promised to open the port on the same day he would be sworn as President if he were to win.
However, nothing happened throughout his first five-year term of office before he was re-elected in May 2019, although the government spent K14 billion on the project.
In February 2019, Mutharika pledged to construct a $600 million dry port in Liwonde to connect Machinga District to neighbouring countries.
“I want Liwonde to be a business centre being part of the international corridor that connects Malawi to Nacala Corridor. I want every part of the Eastern Region to develop and be accessible. There is no need for some parts of the country to be underdeveloped and inaccessible,” he said.
Sunday, Mutharika visited Nsanje-Marka Road in Nsanje and other development projects in the two districts, including Chikwawa-Thabwa and Nsanje-Fatima roads.
Addressing people at Bangula in Nsanje, Mutharika promised to construct Bangula University, saying youths from the two districts should not be flocking to Blantyre and other cities in pursuit of higher education.
Mutharika’s pledge to construct Bangula University comes at a time Malawians in the Northern Region are waiting for Mombera University which his government promised to construct in Mzimba.