Blantyre City Council (BCC) disregarded a recommendation by the city’s town planning committee not to construct a diversion along the Masauko Chipembere Highway for a newly constructed hotel, The Nation has learnt.
Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) president Wilson Chirwa, whose officers formed part of the committee that did not support the developer’s plan to link the hotel access road from the highway, has since faulted BCC’s handling of the matter.
He questioned how a decision to stop the diversion, which was made based on technical considerations by a committee comprising members from the council, Roads Authority, MIE and Ministry of Lands, among others, was sidestepped.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Chirwa said the plan would only worsen the situation on the accident-prone zone.
He said: “Normally, from a technical point of view, you would expect that the hotel would be accessed from the road that passes through Blantyre Cultural Centre to the Independence Arch at Chichiri.
“But the idea to open an access [road] into the main highway is a bad one, especially when one looks at the accident record along that stretch. It is a slope and you cannot have vehicles branching off or joining the road. That decision is wrong and should be rescinded.”
The new plan shows that traffic will be entering the hotel premises from the Limbe direction instead of using the road that connects Blantyre Cultural Centre and the Independence Arch.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said after the committee had rejected the plan to open the hotel’s access to the city’s main highway, the developer sought clearance from elsewhere within the government setup, which the source could not disclose.
By Wednesday, the contractor of the Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel built at Chichiri next to the Civic Centre, had finished making the hotel access road on a sloped stretch connecting it to the busy highway.
The stretch is an accident spot, having registered about 10 accidents and some deaths in the past three years.
But when asked to clarify on the matter, BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said he needed more time to access information from relevant authorities within the council.
BCC chief executive officer Alfred Chanza was also reportedly in a meeting.
The hotel, which stands on 22 000 square metres, is a $25 million (about K18.7 billion) investment, the second of its type by the hotel company after a similar one in Lilongwe.
Meanwhile, the hotel is scheduled to open its doors by October 1 2019, according to Malawi News Agency.
The local news agency quoted Chinese project contractor deputy general manager Derrick Xu as having said the project is at an advanced stage and consists of facilities of international standards such as several conference rooms, hyper stores and supermarkets among others.