Vice-President Saulos Chilima has asked those responsible for rehabilitating the rail line between Limbe and Marka in Nsanje District and construction of Ruo Bridge at Makhanga in the district to work with a sense of urgency.
He said this when he toured project sites Tuesday.
Chilima visited Limbe Train Station, where he appreciated container terminal construction works, before visiting Nansadi Bridge along the railway line.
His tour of the rail line ended at Luchenza and Chilima proceeded to visit Thyolo-Thekelani-Muona Road, which is being rehabilitated. The road passes through Ruo Bridge at Makhanga.
In an interview, Chilima said he was impressed with the works being undertaken.
“I am told that the rail line section between Limbe and Luchenza will be completed by December this year, which is also the case with Ruo Bridge, but the section between Luchenza and Sandama will be completed by May 2022. The timeline for rehabilitation of the line from Sandama to Marka will be communicated in due course.
“We hope that they can finish in time so that Malawians will benefit from the fruits of their taxes. The message is simply that we should be going rail more aggressively in accordance with the Malawi 2063 agenda,” Chilima said.
Nacala Logistics, formerly Central East African Railways, is rehabilitating 72 kilometres of the rail line from Limbe to Sandama.
Its master engineer, Chrispine Kapalamula, said the works had been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
“We were expected to complete the works this year but, due to Covid, we had to stop the works for eight months. The entire project will cost us $13 million [about K10.4 billion],” Kapalamula said.
According to the National Transport Master Plan, it is estimated that it would cost at least $3 billion to build the entire rail network infrastructure in Malawi from scratch; that is, including both the east-west link and the much longer north-south link.