SVTP project to delay further
Completion of the first phase of the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP) will be delayed by another year due to low supply of cement and the impact of natural disasters, officials say.
The first phase of the 14-year project was expected to be implemented between 2018 and 2023.
When completed, the infrastructure is expected to provide access to reliable irrigation and drainage services, secure land tenure for smallholder farmers and strengthen management of wetlands and protected areas in the Shire valley.
But in an interview, SVTP Communications Officer Alice Kaunda said the institution is facing challenges in project implementation.
Construction work was halted twice due to the Covid pandemic and Cyclone Ana.
She added that fuel and cement supply challenges further affected operations.
“We have made considerable progress in different aspects of the project. Regarding infrastructure development, we have almost completed the construction of structures on the six kilometre (km) stretch of the canal, including three bridges, the 396 metres-long flume 13 drainage works, three siphons, the fish barrier structure and over 4 km of the canal.
The firm remains with reconstruction of the intake and siphon structures that Cyclone Ana damaged in January 2022.
According to Kaunda, about 70 percent is already done.
“We have cleared 46km comprising the main canals 1 and 2, and excavation and construction works are underway.
“We are constructing the canal for a distance of 52km for Phase 1 from Kapichira Dam to Lengwe National Park. The overall progress for this section is 35 percent. The canal will cover a stretch of 118km from the intake at Kapichira Dam to Bangula in Nsanje,” Kaunda said.
Through the SVTP, the government aims to boost agricultural production and increase productivity by helping farmers get a better harvest and healthier livestock and grow more high value cash crops to sell at both domestic and international markets.