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Transport woes worry islanders

LIFE-LINE— Lake Malawi vessels

People living on Chizumulu and Likoma islands have expressed worry over never-ending transport challenges, saying they affect socio-economic activities.

Sub-Traditional Authority Mwase of Likoma District was speaking after learning that Energy Generation Company (Egenco) had decided to shelve the process of procuring a boat for the island.

Egenco planned to procure a 75-tonne boat to be ferrying fuel to Likoma and ordinary passengers, thereby connecting the islands to lakeshore districts such as Nkhata Bay.

Mwase said Ilala, which was assembled in 1952, breaks down often, making their lives miserable as they struggle to move people and property from one point to another.

“What we want is reliable transport. There should be an investment in the transport sector. Otherwise, the government should buy another ship because Ilala is no longer reliable. It is old! The challenge is that we are exposed to unseaworthy boats when the ship breaks down,” he said.

Apart from Ilala, the other reliable ship the islanders depend on is MV Chilembwe, which is small, expensive and does not carry large quantities of goods.

Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said the plan to purchase the boat had been chalked off because the company no longer needed to transport fuel to the islands because it installed solar-powered electricity.

Before the introduction of solar powered electricity, Egenco was using diesel-powered electricity, which required the company to transport fuel to the island regularly.

Gwaza also said no contract was awarded for the same, adding that it would be unjustifiable for them to spend huge amounts of money on the boat project.

“At the time we wanted to implement the boat project, the major reason was the transportation of fuel from the mainland to the islands. Now that we have installed solar-powered electricity, we do not need to transport fuel as frequently as was the case before.

“Therefore, the boat project is not a priority anymore at the moment. With solar now in full operation, our need to transport diesel for power generation has drastically reduced. We believe it will be unjustifiable for us to spend huge amounts of money on the boat project when the same resources could be channelled to solar projects we are rolling out across the country,” he said.

The Egenco boat would have a capacity to carry seven crew members and 25 additional people.

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