President Lazarus Chakwera has stressed the need for the country to have quality roads to ensure value for money.
He said this in an interview on Tuesday after a day-long meeting with various stakeholders in the road transport sub-sector at his Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) office at Capital Hill.
The President’s sentiments come amid public concern that the majority of roads constructed in recent years leave a lot to be desired as they deteriorate within a short time, requiring costly maintenance which drains public resources.
The meeting sought to appreciate challenges that affect the timely implementation of road projects and unlocking the bottlenecks for smooth implementation.
Said Chakwera: “I have emphasised on high-quality standard roads to ensure value for money. We don’t want that we should continue to be a laughing stock in the Southern African Development Community region.
“We don’t want to hear corruption stories in the roads construction projects, even the delays of the projects should not be because someone wants to have personal gains from the projects, we don’t want that.”
He said if the country completes the construction of planned roads, it will facilitate smooth transportation of goods and services which will trigger economic development.
Chakwera told stakeholders at the meeting to ensure that existing projects should stick to deadlines and that they should submit progress reports to his office fortnightly.
The President said he was particularly concerned that the six-lane Kenyatta Drive in Lilongwe and the Livingstonia-Njakwa Road had stalled.
He said: “You may recall that I launched the expansion of a six-lane Kenyatta Drive in September last year and the project has been moving at a snail’s pace and so I have been assured that all bottlenecks have been cleared now and we should see movement.
“It was not just about this road but other roads in the North, particularly the Njakwa-Livingstonia Road has stalled. This road that was commissioned six years ago could have been completed by now.”
Chakwera said the PDU also looked at other roads passing through Chitipa, Nthalire, to Nyika-Ulomba from Bwengu in the Northern Region as well as some from the Southern Region.
He delightfully stated that the kind of engagement and honest discussion he had with stakeholders is helping a lot to clear bottlenecks that have bedevilled the country.
The President described some of the bottlenecks as financial and administrative but the meeting resolved that financing was not an issue because resources have now been provided.
In a separate interview, PDU head Colleen Zamba said they will follow through on quality and standards, and as well as the President’s directives to ensure project implementation is not compromised.
“The President has emphasised that we need to get back to old high standard of roads. He has directed that the Ministry of Transport should come up with a comprehensive plan on maintenance programme for roads.
Currently, the total amount of paved roads nationally stands at 4 635 km, which is 18.5 percent of the total public roads network.