Pinning hopes to shaky jetty
When the Nkhata Bay jetty was opened for use, there was jubilation among people, especially those that count on water transport. But, as SAMUEL KALIMIRA writes, the excitement is proving to be short lived.
Some people in Nkhata Bay District have asked Malawi Shipping Company to consider suspending Ilala from docking at Nkhata Bay jetty, which they say has developed dangerous cracks.
A jetty is a structure that projects from land out into water. A jetty may serve as a breakwater, walkway or both.
The community members said the purported cracks on the jetty put those alighting from and boarding the Illala at risk.
When we visited the site, we found that, apart from having visible cracks, a good part of the jetty, especially underneath, has been eaten up by water.
Councillor for Boma Ward, Cyria Adamana, said an interim measure could be to allow the ship to be docking at a distance so that people can be using small boats when disembarking and boarding the Illala.
In the long run, Adamana said people want the government to construct a permanent jetty, as the current one was constructed on temporary basis.
“The problem is that people enter the ship through the jetty, which is a dangerous thing to do. It is better that we go back to the old time, when we were using boats. This place is no longer worth stepping on and we do not want the country to lose people one day. Let us prevent this foreseen accident,” Adamana said.
Commenting on the issue, Mota-Engil Public Relations Manager Thomas Chafunya said while being considerate of the safety of passengers, the ship’s captain and crew are better placed to make a decision on where to dock.
“If he or she believes that there aren’t safe conditions, he docks at bay. The captain and his or her crew make independent professional decisions on the matter,” Chafunya said.
Recently, Transport and Public Works Minister Jacob Hara said the government is working on improving water transport by, among other things, constructing jetties which would be followed by the introduction of new vessels on Lake Malawi.
Hara said construction of Likoma jetty is an example of government’s commitment to ensure that water transport is improved.
Nkhata Bay jetty, which has a 10-year lifespan, was constructed in 2018.