The Indian Government has pledged to finance the construction of an international convention centre in Blantyre City which will host various activities, including international conferences.
As part of the agreement, the Blantyre City Council (BCC) will put up a statue in honour of fallen Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Ghandi.
Speaking during a media tour of the convention centre site on Tuesday, BCC spokesperson Anthony Kasunda said the government of India, through its embassy, has provided a grant of $10 million (about K7.3 billion) to the Malawi Government for the construction of the centre to be located opposite BCC offices.
He said the centre will create a state-of-the-art venue for international and local events and also add to the city’s beauty.
Said Kasunda: “Lilongwe has the Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc). We are privileged to see that Blantyre will have a similar facility of its own.”
In return for the interest of the grant, the government of India asked to be allocated a place where they could build a Mahatma Gandhi statue in honour of that country’s former leader.
According to Kasunda, BCC allocated a place along the Mahatma Gandhi Road off Chipembere Highway as the ideal site for the statue.
He added that other things to be built on the site, to be named Mahatma Gandhi Square, include a police unit and a recreation park where people will be able to relax and have some fun and various food stores will be selling various food items.
In his explanation, he said the development came into place after they sent some proposals to various potential sponsors of which Indian government is one of them.
In a separate interview yesterday, the Indian High Commission’s head of chancery Anil Kumar confirmed the development.
He said: “We are doing everything possible to finalise the developments without forcing a financial hand on Malawian government or the Blantyre City Council.”
Asked about the project’s timeline, Kumar could only confirm the statue.
“The statue is expected to complete by end of October. But for the international convention centre, it is difficult to say as of now since there is only ground work like cutting of trees and preparing the site. This is a huge project,” he said.
BCC is undertaking other development projects in the city including the construction of Old Chileka Road dual carriageway, rehabilitation of parks and private toilets to ensure hygiene in the city.