Chikhwawa, February 7: President Dr Joyce Banda says government will make road maintenance and rehabilitation a priority before embarking on new projects in the country.
The President was responding to European Union’s Ambassador to the country, Alexander Baum who appealed to government to put in place deliberate measures of maintaining roads noting that it was more expensive to rehabilitate than maintaining a road.
Dr Banda was speaking at Ngoma primary school ground on Wednesday after officially opening the Chikhwawa-Bangula Road section.
The road was rehabilitated with funding amounting to 16million Euros from the European Union and it stretches 81.74 kilometres connecting Malawi from Chitipa to Nsanje.
“The policy of my government is to ensure that paved road assets and indeed all the road network is maintained and rehabilitated to preserve its value, it makes no sense to always be investing in new roads while at the same time failing to maintain the road assets that you have built over time,” said Dr Banda.
The President therefore said government had plans of rehabilitating Lilongwe-Dedza- Ntcheu-Nsipe road, Ngabu-Bangula, Msulira- nkhotakota game reserve section and later on Karonga-Songwe road, Mzuzu-Nkhatabay and Salima- Nkhotakota-Dwanga roads.
“From the list of the projects, it is clear that my government has clear and solid plans to preserve the road network assets to ensure smooth flow of traffic for trade and investment,” explained Dr Banda.
E.U. Alexander Baum earlier warned government that if it neglects the Northern road corridor it will deteriorate.
He therefore said there was need for a developing country such as Malawi to have funds available for maintenance as it was cheaper than rehabilitating which requires a lot of resources.
Baum said this was important not only for developing countries, but even countries in the European Union (EU) as they are undergoing austerity times.
In his speech Minister of Transport, Sidik Mia said he was grateful for the funds from the EU which he said would ensure that the road network is improved in the country.
Mia also mentioned that government would be commissioning a feasibility study for Nsanje-Marka road so that it was rehabilitated as part of the road projects that government will be implementing.
The newly opened road is part of the M1 road which connects Malawi from Songwe in Karonga to Marka in Nsanje, the work involved resealing and rehabilitating of badly damaged sections.
Apart from this road, some of the development projects to be carried out in the Shire Valley that are either ongoing or planned for implementation include the Thyolo-Makwasa-Bangula road, Chiromo Bridge and Chikhwawa-Chapananga-Mwanza road.