Lilongwe City Council spokesperson Tamara Chafunya explains to Albert Sharra on what the council is doing in readiness for the African Union Summit scheduled for next month.
It is five weeks before the African Union (AU) Summit starts in Lilongwe. Is the city council ready for the Summit?
The Lilongwe City Council is ready, even though it is clear that not always can one be 100% ready for any event. However, the council will strive to keep working on the few remaining areas to ensure a very successful AU Summit in our beautiful city.
The council has been struggling to remove heaps of waste in the city and most roads are in poor state. Is there anything being done about these issues?
Â We have had erratic supply of fuel, a problem well known to everyone in the country and this has indeed left us with a backload of refuse in most areas in the city. Suffice to say that the Lilongwe City Council is embarking on an intensive refuse collection programme following the supply of fuel and we are very hopeful that this programme will be complete in time for the AU Summit so that our city is clean and green.
The council is also working hand in hand with the National Roads Authority in rehabilitating most roads that are currently in poor state as seen in most locations where roads are being attended to by various contractors.
A project to install and repair street lights started sometime back, but up to now most busy streets have no streets lights. What do you say on this?
All the places that were earmarked for street lighting have been put in place and for the lights that are in place and not yet energised such as the area 25 and airport roads to Lumbadzi will definitely be functional by the time of the AU summit. For other roads within the city such as the M1 road, lights will be repaired also in time for the summit. For the areas which do not have street lights, the council has plans to install and energise street lighting for this financial year.
Some presidential villas that are expected to accommodate delegates during the summit are yet to be completed. Does the city have enough places to accommodate the delegates in case the presidential villas will not be ready by then? Which places are you banking on?
As you are aware, a consortium has been identified to run the presidential villas under the Umodzi Park. As such, preparations of the villas are at an advanced stage and we are certain that the preparations will be completed in time for the AU Summit to accommodate our distinguished visitors. All that is remaining is some small work to do with landscaping and final touches in the cleanliness of the outside surrounding the Villas.
Â There are concerns about poor security in most accommodation places in the city. What are you doing to ensure there is good security during the summit?
Â You may wish to know that the chairperson of the AU Organising Committee was on MIJ FM on Wednesday 6thÂ June, 2012, in the 7am programme where he explained how prepared Malawi is in terms of accommodation and security. A number of countries and donors have pledged total support to provide security and transport for a successful AU Summit. And also the committee that looks at the AU preparations was in various media houses such as the director of tourism Mr. Isaac Katopola where the nation was assured on our preparedness towards accommodation for all our distinguished visitors and further asked owners of all the places that have been identified to get prepared for guests and visitors.
Street vending is back in the city and some people are vending from verandas of shops. What do you say on this with regard to the hosting of AU summit?
Stakeholder meetings have taken place on issues concerning our vendors and plans are in place to sort out issues of the vendors in such spaces. The Council does not want such process to cause chaos in town through the use of police but rather we believe this can only be achieved through contact and dialogue to come to a compromise with our colleagues the vendors and all the stakeholders involved.
What is your message to Malawians on the summit?
Malawians must expect that as a peace-loving nation we will benefit from the summit. Our country and our beautiful City of Lilongwe will rise on the world map to prospective investors.
Malawians should not panic; all is set as far as the city preparations are concerned. As I indicated earlier that we may not be 100% perfect and prepared as may be expected but we assure the nation that we will continue to work hard and continue with the preparations even during the Summit to ensure a successful AU Summit.