Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila has described the $8 million (K4 billion) newly-constructed MV Chilembwe as an impressive ship, which will facilitate growth of other subsectors, including tourism, manufacturing, health, education and mining.
Kasaila, speaking during the launch of the 120-passenger ship at Monkey Bay shipyard, said the new and modern facilities in the ship will make any traveller feel at ease.
“As I was being taken around during the maiden cruise, I was greatly impressed by the quality of facilities of the vessel. I am reliably informed that this vessel is the first to be constructed at this shipyard.
“In the past, vessels were constructed in overseas shipyards and were just assembled here. As government, we want to encourage strong collaboration and partnership with the private sector with the emphasis on local manufacturing,” he said.
Kasaila said the water transport sub-sector and access to efficient water transport services is an important catalyst for economic growth as it facilitates growth of many sub-sectors, resulting in poverty reduction.
He said government deliberately embarked on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Mota-Engil having realised that shipping is a capital intensive business.
“It is pleasing to note that, so far, Mota-Engil has already invested quite a sizeable amount of money as evidenced by the procurement of MV Chilembwe and the rehabilitation of the existing vessels as well as other assets,” said Kasaila, adding that government will provide a conducive environment for the investments being made by Mota-Engil to flourish.
Mota-Engil Malawi managing director Jose Dinis da Silva said apart from spending $8 million to construct the MV Chilembwe, the firm has, so far, spent over K2.6 billion to rehabilitate old ships it inherited from Malawi Government.
He said MV Chilembwe is the first ship to be constructed in Malawi and because it is a much faster ship than the rest of the vessels, it will make water travel comfortable and memorable.
“Our aim is to make water transport compete with road transport by introducing fast vessels on Lake Malawi. As a company, we will continue to invest heavily in this sector and we want Malawians as well as the private sector to support us,” said da Silva.
The launch of this ship is set to end transport woes experienced by Malawians living along Lake Malawi and have been relying on the ageing Ilala, which breaks down frequently.