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Settlers frustrate Liwonde Dry Port

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Some settlers along the Shire River in Liwonde are standing in the way of the development of a dry port, claiming compensation from the investor, Mota-Engil.

Mota-Engil recently signed a concession agreement with the Malawi government to develop a dry port at Liwonde under a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.

Mota-Engil, in liaison with the Ministry of Lands, already paid over one million euros (K800 million) to settlers around Kaudzu area in 2014 to kick start the project.

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However, the settlers are now claiming that the compensation paid only covered houses and trees and that they are still expecting payment for “disturbance and relocation”.

“We were not paid disturbance and relocation transport allowances. That is what we are looking for before any development starts taking place,” said secretary for the ex-Kaudzu settlers committee, Davie Mkandawire.

The settlers have since taken the issue to court for arbitration while some have resumed farming on the land.

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Maching a District Commissioner, Reinghard Chavula, said Mota-Engil followed the procedure as laid down in compensation statutes which stipulate that payments be made for existing structures and trees only.

Mota-Engil public relations consultant, Thomas Chafunya, said compensations were calculated by the government based on which the company made payments.

“But we cannot currently comment on the issue because it is now in court,” he said.

The Liwonde Port, when developed, is expected to help reduce costs in the transportation of fuel, sugar, coal and fertiliser through direct rail link with the Nacala railway line.

It was first conceived in 1965 when a German Engineering firm was contracted to investigate the possibility of linking the northern part of Lake Malawi with the Nacala Rail.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was approved by the Malawi government in 1969 but efforts to develop the port were disrupted when war broke out in Mozambique in 1975.

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