The Malawi Government is alleged to have paid each family a meagre K1, 000 [One Thousand Kwacha Only] as compensation for the destruction of property and houses in Nsanje-Marka Road Project in Chikwawa and Nsanje.
China Railway 20 Bureau Limited (CR20) started constructing the 26-kilometre tarmac road in 2019 after the Roads Authority (RA) awarded it a contract worth close to K11 billion.
When it launched the project, the government said the road would simplify and reduce transport costs for smallholder and large-scale farmers and businesspeople.
The road was designed to connect and boost economic activities among the people of Traditional Authorities (T/As) Ndamera, Chimombo, Ngabu, Makolo and Malemia through removal of the transportation challenges farmers and businesspeople used to face when taking their agricultural produce to towns and cities such as Blantyre in search of better prices.
But two communities affected by the project are not complaining that “instead of being a blessing to the people of Chikwawa and Nsanje, the road project has become a trumpeter of death.”
Scores of people who thronged journalists who were on tour of the road project on Thursday alleged that apart from the government paying them a meagre K1, 000 as compensation for the loss of their property and houses, the quality of the workmanship on the road leaves a lot to be desired.
The tour was organized by the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI).
One of the affected people, Ibrahim Amon, pleaded with journalists to assist in sending the message about their plight to the leaders at Capital Hill.
“What can a family that has lost a house and other valuable property do with K1, 000? Is the government serious that, in this era and economic times, one can rebuild his or her family with K1, 000?” asked Amon.
Catherine Stafford – a resident of Chamboko Village under Traditional Authority Ngabu in Nsanje – lamented that instead of boosting social and economic activities, the road has become a “death trap”.
Speaking in her Sena language, Stafford said schools and rural health centres have been washed away by water, which the CR20 diverted to the facilities in the course of the construction work.
“Of course, this is a village. But this road is not of up to standard. I have been to Nsanje Boma and Blantyre. I have never seen a road of poor standard as this one,” she said.
Group Village Head White accused the government of betraying his subjects, arguing the project is a sham and a mockery to taxpayers.
White said the government did not consult traditional and community leaders before embarking on the project.
“I have been to the DC’s office countless times, but we are not being assisted. We would like to appeal to the Minister responsible and even the President to intervene because people are suffering here,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Halima Daud, was in a meeting when Nyasa Times wanted to seek her comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa has challenged Malawians to stand up and defend their rights by “keeping an eye” on development projects.
Namiwa observed that officials at the Capital Hill are taking advantage of the docility of Malawians to abuse resources meant to develop this country.