If hopes were the Kwacha, it would not have been far from the truth to say it [hope] is at a low.
More so because, just yesterday, the half-tonne vehicle I hired from Limbe to Ginnery Corner stopped on its own ‘volition’ just 500 metres into the journey.
“What is the issue?” I asked the driver.
“Mmmm. Fuel. The vehicle has run out of fuel,” he said.
But, then, just some 10 metres from the highway was a filling station. The driver’s face lit up. I guessed that he was happy that he would get the fuel; petrol in this case. It was never to be.
The other filling station just some 300 metres from that one also had no petrol, and this was also the case at the other filling station four kilometres away.
Well, the driver had no option but to phone his friend, informing him that the vehicle had broken down and that he had to bring his to pick me up. That is how I found myself being delayed by some 30 minutes.
I am happy that I arrived at my destination safely. That is all that matters in these days of shortage of fuel.
Shortage of petroleum products is one of the factors lowering our hopes— again and again.
Of course, the other issue is that of shortage of forex.
But that is a story for another day.
Anyway, today I am happy; happy that Malawi, on Wednesday, signed the long awaited $350 million (about K362 billion) second Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact which seeks to assist the Government of Malawi in addressing the root causes of constraints to economic growth.
The signing of the compact brought to an end Malawi’s four years of waiting since December 2018, when it qualified for the assistance. Among other things, the compact, which was signed by Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe and MCC Chief Executive Officer Alice Albright in the presence of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, seeks to address the high price of road freight transport service and remove barriers to linking farms to markets in rural areas.
The compact is also designed to address difficulties with access to land for investment due to mismanagement of the estate sector and ambiguity on property and land rights, particularly for women smallholder farmers.
The compact will include three key projects, namely the Accelerated Growth Corridors Project, the Increased Land Productivity Project and the American Catalyst Facility for Development Project.
The Accelerated Growth Corridors Project is designed to address the root causes of the binding constraint of high price of road freight transport service and barriers to linking farms to markets in rural areas—specifically, poor rural infrastructure and policy, institutional, and regulatory issues affecting the transport sector.
Reductions in travel time and vehicle operating costs due to improved road conditions and more efficient routes that feed into a broader transport network in Malawi are expected to reduce costs to existing roads users and to spur additional traffic along the investment corridors.
In addition, ensuring women’s safety in transport and agricultural marketing are likely to complement and sustain the benefits of the physical road works.
To say the truth, I am happy with the development.
I can see where we are going and how we will get there, thanks to partners such as the United States.
We all know that power generation and supply issues have been our headache for far too long. Of course, development partners, notably the United States and the United Kingdom, have been trying their best to, where the need arises, show us the way.
But, for the most part, we have stagnated in the mud of poverty. We have been struggling in many areas and, recently, this has meant even struggling to raise our flag of hope.
The pain has, Dear Pain, been too much to bear.
But, then, the MCC news from the US is something we can bear. Really.
I will be interested in the implementation part. That is where the real work is.