Mzuzu City Council (MCC) plans to have a new leisure park by 2018/19 to provide recreation to its residents.
The council, which has the mandate to provide recreation services to residents, does not have a leisure park.
Instead, city residents depend on Mzuzu National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi and private-owned Lughano Park and Obrigado Leisure Centre, among others.
MCC director of parks, leisure and environment Godwin Ponderani said the council has already started floating adverts in newspapers for interested parties to partner in the development of the park.
According to the MCC Strategic Plan of 2014-2019, the city is supposed to have a new leisure park by 2018/19.
He said: “We floated an advert on the same for people to show interest. Nobody came forward. We are floating another advert very soon. And if people come forward, we will shortlist the successful ones and refer them to the Office of the President and Cabinet for approval.”
In the meantime, Ponderani said the council will be developing open spaces in the city to turn them into “small parks”.
Open spaces to be converted into parks include those near Katoto Filling Station and Mzuzu Health Centre.
However, he could not disclose when that project will finish, saying it will depend on the availability of funds.
The absence of a council park has seen residents visiting Mzuzu National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi for study, photo and video shootings as well as for prayers and weddings.
To access the garden, one pays a fee in the range of K50 to K10 000 depending on the activity. The institution also sells indigenous and exotic trees, flowers, shrubs, fruits and special plants such as roses, palms, aloe vera, strawberries, charcoal and firewood.
The institution’s assistant curator Ignatius Malota said business has dropped by half since last year when they introduced fees.
“Previously, our services were for free and in an attempt to raise money for operations, we introduced a fee. Since then, patronage has decreased by half,” he said.
The botanic garden stands on a 554 hectare land. It shares boundaries with Mzuzu Technical College, Lunyangwa Research Station and Luwinga Industrial Area.
The botanic garden boasts of seven rivers and most of the wetlands in Mzuzu originate from there.
However, the place is not fully developed as it has no chairs, walkways, toilets and shelters.
“Our plan is to develop the place further where we can have an education centre, restaurant and concrete walkways. We don’t have these things because we have not finished the process of acquiring a title deed.So, to us, this is not yet a botanic garden,” said Malota.
The National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi was established by an Act of Parliament in 1987 with the objective of developing botanic gardens and herbarium.
The Mzuzu botanic garden was established two years later. Apart from Mzuzu, other botanic gardens are in Lilongwe, and Zomba as the headquarters. n