The labour of patience


Many a time, policy makers have chosen the easy path of delaying the inevitable.

This is especially true of public projects.

Take, for instance, bridges.


Like, seriously, where does it happen that people trained in their job miscalculate something that has a deep meaning to people intended to use it?

But, Dear Pain, this is what has happened, as if, despite all the pains we are enduring, you, Dear Pain, are not yet done with us.

Look at commodity prices. Take a look at the potholes strewn on the roads all over the country. Take a look at the employment queues in such industrial areas as Makata in Blantyre. Take a look at all the people who wear tattered clothes because they spent all the money they had on fertiliser, in the hope that they would harvest enough to take them through the year, only to suffer post-harvest losses because they could not afford pesticides.


Look at all the hopeless faces round-about, as if they were not promised the moon on the earth.

Malawi is a fault waiting to be identified. Really.

Talking about faults that come from the source – people that were supposed to know better; those that were supposed to rectify them before they got into the public domain— there is the suspicious case of Chapananga Bridge in my beloved Shire Valley.

Many a politician have spoken about that bridge, in terms of how important it is to the people of the Shire Valley in particular and the people of Malawi in general.

And, they way they postulate as they speak, one would be hoodwinked into thinking that we have well-wishers in politicians. Far from it, for, if we were to judge what politicians say, we would realise that they are there to line their pockets while cheating us that they are doing something about our problems.

This is the impression one gets when the issue of Chapananga Bridge is brought to the fore.

I mean, in an ideal world, one would have chosen to believe Ministry of Transport officials, who said recently that Chapananga Bridge in Chikwawa District was built at the wrong place.

To make matters worse, while Chapananga is said to be a bridge, ministry officials said the site where it is does not suit a bridge. Wait a minute! Is Chapananga Bridge not a bridge? From what I know, it is a bridge. And now the government says the bridge is not supposed to be where it is because the bridge would simply not be a bridge if it were to be called a bridge at that bridge. Dear Pain, it pains just to understand this; which is why I am at pains to grasp what the current administration is saying about this coveted bridge in the Shire Valley.

Well, for starters, the 180-metre long bridge was constructed at a cost of K8 billion. Just imagine what this amount of money would do if it were used for the construction of a hospital or school or stadium in the Southern Region.

But, then, that amount of money was spent on construction of Chapananga Bridge. Fine and well, considering that people of the Shire Valley have been craving a bridge. But, then, to say the bridge is not a bridge after that mammoth sum was spent on constructing it is hogwash [for lack of a better word].

To make matters worse, we are talking about a bridge that was officially opened in 2019— at a colourful ceremony for that matter.

But, then, as happens in Malawi every more often, the government has a lame excuse for tolerating the scandal that is Chapananga Bridge and, on its watch, spending taxpayers’ money on it.

Well, in case politicians did not know, or else they wanted to take us for a ride, government is a going concern. It does not matter which administration is in power; the government is a going concern. And this is the very reason we have the National Planning Commission, which is there to ensure that development initiatives are sustained in the country.

This is the reason I am not satisfied with the answer ministry officials recently gave to Chikwawa West lawmaker Susan Dossi, who wanted to know exactly what the issue is with the bridge.

In response, they said engineers were forced to commit what he termed the Chapananga mistake because of political interference.

And, now, it is not politicians, who are being blamed, who are bearing the brunt of that decision; it is ordinary people who, after the bridge was washed away by water, are affected.

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