Government has failed to explain the use of the much-touted Nsanje World Inland Port Project, which has already cost taxpayers billions of kwacha, as a venue for public events.
On Saturday, a picture circulating on social media showed people gathered at the port, a brainchild of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, for a wedding ceremony.
Asked who is hiring out the premises for public events and how much is charged, Nsanje District Council official spokesperson Martin Chiwanda, who is also the district information officer, expressed ignorance.
He said central government has not handed over the project to the council; hence, the council has no power to authorise such events.
“As you are aware, the port was constructed under the central government, and so the council has no mandate to authorise anyone to use it for any public event. If anything, these people were supposed to get authorisation from the central government [Ministry of Transport and Public Works],” said Chiwanda.
In a separate interview, secretary for Ministry of Transport and Public Works Francis Chinsinga said his ministry is also not aware that the port has turned into a wedding venue.
He blamed the council for not communicating the matter to the ministry even if the project was not handed over to the council, adding the port is a government project which Nsanje District Council is part of it.
“That people are using the place for wedding events, we are hearing from you. We were expecting council officials to communicate to us, even if it was not handed over to them. They were supposed to ask us if they suspected anything strange. But we are not authorising any person to hold a public function at the place,” he said.
Chinsinga emphasised the project is not a white elephant as government is still pursuing the project.
He said the ministry will investigate the hiring out of the port for the wedding.
The Nsanje World Inland Port was meant to link Chinde in Mozambique through the Shire-Zambezi rivers. It was inaugurated on October 23 2010 by the late Bingu wa Mutharika, at a function that was shunned by then Mozambique President Armando Guebuza as neighbouring Mozambique did not want to invest in it because the transport policy in that country was to develop rail and roads. But former presidents for Zambia and Zimbabwe Rupiah Banda and Robert Mugabe, respectively attended the function.