Peter Mutharika’s Mzuzu airport dream still mystery
Confusion continues to mar President Peter Mutharika’s pledge to construct a new airport in Mzuzu, the latest being revelations that government is yet to decide on where it will be located out of the three places that were identified.
The project, which will cost about $20 million, is one of the pledges Mutharika made to the people of the Northern Region some two years go.
Despite the pledge, government has failed to settle for one site where the project will be implemented.
The three places that were identified are Envuyeni in Mzimba North Constituency at a place that used to serve as the old airfield, Lusangazi in Mzuzu Central Business District (CBD) and Choma in Mzimba North Constituency, at a place that was earmarked for a new Mzuzu University campus.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, confirmed in an interview that government has not settled for any site.
“Funding for the project and the designs are already there. What remains is for us to choose where the airport will be located,” Mhango said.
He added that there has been a hot debate on the three identified sites since the old site in Mzuzu CBD was declared not good enough for such a project.
He also said Emvuyeni has become less favoured because of its distance from Mzuzu CBD since people will have to cover a distance of close to 27 kilometres to catch flights.
He also revealed that Lusangazi is also associated with persistent fog, which can affect aircraft when touching down or taking off.
As of the land that was set aside for the construction of a new Mzuzu University campus, Mhango said the challenge would be for government to construct a 23-kilometre access road.
“That is likely to blot the budget for construction. But we are still discussing the issue to see which place can best suit the project,” Mhango said.
In Envuyeni, the airport project faces further uncertainty, as it is not clear whether people displaced from the land would be compensated.
Senior Chief Mtwalo recently told Malawi News that his subjects are eagerly waiting for compensation before their relocation.
However, Mtwalo could not hide the fact that some of his subjects are against relocation.
In March this year, during an audience with a delegation from the International Civil Aviation Organisation at Chikoko Bay in Mangochi, Mutharika reiterated his government’s commitment to have a new airport in the Northern Region.
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