The rehabilitation of the country’s ports is expected to reduce transportation cost by between 24 percent and 30 percent, consultant and adviser for Mota-Engil’s ports and shipping services Austin Msowoya has said.
Msowoya told journalists during a media tour of Chilumba, Nkhata Bay and Chipoka (Salima) ports recently that although slower than road transport, shipping has the capacity to carry more load and passengers at once.
“Built in 1990, the twin ports of Chilumba and Chipoka have remained idle and underutilised forcing the transport sector to stick to the most expensive road mode. If we take cargo off the road, money meant for repairs and other needs can be invested elsewhere to further our economic development,” he said.
The ports are undergoing rehabilitation courtesy of Mota-Engil which took over their operations from July 1 2013 under the Malawi Shipping Company and Malawi Ports Company.
Msowoya said government handed over the ports to Mota-Engil following recommendations from the World Bank to transfer businesses-related institutions to the private sector to manage them for the benefit of Malawians.
He said Chilumba in Karonga will require $2 million (K690 million) to rehabilitate infrastructure alone, adding that rehabilitation works would extend to the ports machinery that include the passenger section and all its accessories, two ware houses, a workshop, a diesel power house and fuel facilities.
Msowoya also said that new equipment will be bought as cargo improves, admitting that although in working condition, most of the 22-year-old investment required big attention because of overstaying and lack of maintenance.
The passenger section comprises a waiting bay complete with a kiosk and wash rooms.
Msowoya said Mota-Engil is working towards beautifying the entire premises to make the water industry attractive for both passengers and manufacturing companies as a business strategy.
“The road industry is very aggressive and we are aware of this competition. We want to take advantage of the multi-mode at Chipoka with its vibrant railroad to make the best of the water transportation.
“It is also big business for government which will be getting two and a half percent of the annual gross earnings. It is already winning some of the activities it lost during the 22-year dormant period. The first investment will be in Nkhata Bay which has not been rehabilitated since it was built in 1958,” he said.
He said the works there will include re-arranging rocks at the harbour, constructing tarmac roads and building a new concrete jetty.