Malawians may have to wait for another month for the modern MV Chilembwe due to logistical problems and low water levels on Lake Malawi.
MV Chilembwe was initially slated to be launched by early June this year but according to multinational Mota-Engil Group subsidiary Malawi Shipping Company (MSC), the assembling of the ship has not been completed and may still even wait after the completion.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, MSC consultant Austin Msowoya said the $8.5 million (about K3.5 billion) state-of-the-art MV Chilembwe is complete regarding wiring, fixing of engines and accommodation but they are still working on paneling.
“We currently have a problem with low water levels on the lake because we did not foresee such due to the unexpected low rainfall. We will require to cut the cradle of the ship by one metre to suit the water levels. To do that we will need to lift the ship using two giant cranes. So far only one crane is available and the other one has mechanical faults and requires spares,” said Msowoya.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s MV Ilala, the country’s largest passenger vessel may continue experiencing breakdowns because it relies on improvised spare parts following the disbandment of the company that built the ship with passengers hoping for MV Chilembwe.
According to MSC, the new vessel is modern with a speed twice that of Ilala at up to 20 knots which is approximately 38 kilometres per hour and is built to modern high standards in that it is designed to be stable and can sail comfortably even in troubled waters.
According to MSC, the new ship will accommodate 120 passengers and will be able to carry 20 tonnes of cargo and has a life span of more than 100 years.
In 2010, government granted MSC a 35-year shipping services concession to attract more investment into the sector.
Speaking earlier, Msowoya said over the past three years, the company has rehabilitated most of the cargo vessels, including MV Ilala.
The new vessel is one of the key requirements of the concession agreement. MSC will also build a five star hotel which will have an international golf course to prop up the tourism.
A review of the concession in 2013 found MSC satisfying most of its aspects.
Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) chief executive officer Jimmy Lipunga was quoted in The Nation in August last year as having said that they could not find anything better than MSC.