Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has said completion of the $23.5 million (about K17.6 billion) Likhubula Water Supply System Project which was initially slated for the first week of April has delayed following heavy rains and flooding which damaged some of its pipes early last month.
BWB director of technical services Mavuto Chiipanthenga said the floods damaged its main water pipe that had just been installed at Losa in Mulanje and work could not continue as the place became water logged and inaccessible by any machinery.
The rains also affected operations in some areas as work could not continue due to a slippery terrain.
Chiipanthenga said: “Basically, this project has faced two challenges namely compensation as well as flooding, which led to the dislocation of a main pipe at a length of about 1.3 kilometers. As a result, the contractor had to wait until the rain had reduced and employed other means to fix the problem.”
But he said a concrete structure has now been constructed to hold the pipes.
The project is set to increase water supply in Blantyre City and surrounding areas using gravitation force to push water to Nguludi Pumping Station in Chiradzulu to areas such as the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo, Bangwe Township, part of Limbe central business district and Mapanga.
The project initially faced resistance as Mulanje residents demanded that they too benefit from it.
BWB chief executive officer Dan Chaweza said the board was rehabilitating existing schemes that tap water from Mulanje Mountain to ensure continuous water flow for Mulanje residents.
In his remarks, after touring the project in Mulanje on Friday, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha hailed the contractor for working within set project duration.
“This project is very important as we all know that water is life,” he said.
The Likhubula Water Project is expected to add 20 000 cubic metres (m3)of water to BWB’s 86 000 m3 per day. The total demand is about 120 000 m3 and upon completion of the project, the shortfall will be reduced from 34 000 to 14 000 m3.
During the World Water Day pre-event in Blantyre on March 19, engineer Chaweza said the project would beat the June 30 deadline to be commissioned in the first week of April, saying 95 percent of works had been completed.
But Chiipanthenga said what is remaining now is to finalise installation of pipes for the remaining 4.5km distance, cleaning the pipes, filling the water in the treatment plant and testing the flow of water. n