Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Sort this Shire River mess, now


Two months ago, Malawians woke up to the stomach-churning news about Area 18A residents who were supplied with and consequently made to consume water contaminated with sewage.

While the nation is yet to recover from that revolting revelation, there is this startling news that part of the Shire River might be polluted by waste coming from some lodges.

If it has taken the whole Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resources to visit the place to get first-hand information, it means that the problem has been there for some time. And that even debilitates us more.


The Shire River, for Christ’s sake, is not just another cesspool on the road side. This is the biggest and most important river which is unarguably a lifeline to many people. Residents in Blantyre and surrounding areas in the country, drink from the Shire River and, in any normally run country; this river, has to be protected at all cost. But here we are carelessly polluting the river thus putting lives in danger.

Of course, the visit by the parliamentary committee gives some hope, but then, hope is not enough because every second someone uses water. While we are waiting for the said probe, some residents are likely consuming contaminated water. So far, it might be argued that the truth has not been established and that the suspected contaminated water has not reached far. But still, even if it were four people consuming polluted water because of our lackadaisical approach to serious matters, then there is a problem.

All this—meaning including the Lilongwe’s Area 18 saga—has come about due to lack of seriousness in our systems. Whatever results of the findings will be, we still have to be ashamed of ourselves for failing to do the basics like safeguarding an important river like the Shire.


As we are talking now, the Area 18A case is in court but those who blundered are still free and happy wherever they are despite putting lives of people in danger.

This time around, we hope that those responsible will seriously investigate and come to the bottom of what is happening in Liwonde. Our fervent hope is that the visit by the parliamentary committee will not turn out to be just another executive ceremonial visit. In case those in authority have forgotten, that mantra says water is life not polluted water is life.

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