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Thabwa-Fatima road emergency works to end this month

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The Ministry of Transport and Public Works has said rehabilitation work on the heavily damaged 59-kilometre Thabwa- Masenjere-Fatima road in Chikwawa and Nsanje North is expected to end this month.

At least U$450,000 out of the U$600,000 the Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agriculture Development Project (Irladp), with funding from the World Bank, provided towards short-term intervention measures on the flood-affected areas, is being spent on this road.

During the January floods, several drainage structures, including some road sections, were damaged with a section between Seven and Makhanga washed away as Ruo River changed its course, thereby making it hard for people to access the East Bank area in Nsanje.

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Speaking after touring the road from Thabwa to Chiromo Bridge on Shire River last week, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila, said the road will have the temporary structures built by the end of June.

“For these temporary works that we have seen happening here, we have a contract that is coming to an end in June. So, by 30th June, we shall have all these works finished and the road will be open to traffic for the time being. But we are coming in with permanent structures to make sure that we deal with the problem once and for all,” Kasaila said.

The contractor, who has been on the site for three weeks, has graded about 40 kilometres to make the road passable while waiting for permanent structures.

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On the segment where Ruo River changed its course and submerged some villages, Kasaila said government will have a project which will see the river diverted to its original course.

Currently, travellers to East Bank are forced to use canoes, bicycles and motor-cycles to reach areas like Makhanga as there is no alternative motor vehicle ride to the area.

The East Bank has rich agricultural fields and a lot of rice is grown in the area.

It is also home to several irrigation schemes.

The area is also an alternative route for transporting bananas from the Thyolo escarpment and when Thyolo- Thekerani-Makwasa road becomes impassable, motorists use Thabwa-Fatima-Masenjere road.

While expressing happiness on the project’s progress, Member of Parliament for Nsanje North Esther Mcheka- Chilenje called on government to expedite the process of constructing permanent structures to ease perennial transport woes for her constituents.

Under the Malawi Flood Emergency Recovery Project, it is proposed that an estimated $19 million, which is subject to agreement with the financiers, will be used to construct permanent drainage structures and the road to sub-base level with the anticipation that future funding would construct the base and surfacing finishes.

Meanwhile, the upgrading of Milepa-Chiradzulu section of the Chiringa-Chiradzulu road is expected to finish earlier than expected.

According to Kasaila, the K7 billion project may end by December this year and not May 2016 as scheduled.

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