The Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) on Sunday expressed shock at the condition of the Zomba-Blantyre Road which has become impassable near Njuli Quarry since mid last week.
MIE has since pledged to meet the Roads Authority (RA), the contractor Mota Engil and all concerned parties by the end of this week to map the way forward.
During a visit at the damaged area on Sunday, only a few vehicles could be spotted on the road and some minibus passengers travelling from Zomba to Blantyre were seen dispatched at Njuli. They had to endure walking about two kilometres to board another bus to complete their trip on either side.
Some minibus drivers and conductors said fares for people travelling on the road have gone up from about K1 000 to K2 500 per person and people with luggage are paying an extra K500 to call boys to carry their goods across the impassable stretch.
MIE president Dr Matthews Mtumbuka said the condition of the road was a result of negligence because there is no engineering puzzle that may have delayed the contractor from fixing the current road condition earlier.
He said MIE had written RA in December 2012 regarding the condition of the road and had also cautioned the authority that delays to find a good detour would cause a road crisis.
Mtumbuka said the institute had called for a meeting with the contractor, RA and consultants to map a way forward on the construction of the road.
He said: “The condition of the road can be deemed as a crisis and we have scheduled a meeting with Mota Engil and all concerned parties to find the speedy and emergency solution of the road. What we saw at the site is a shock because we did not expect the contractor to let the situation on the road to go out of hand like it has done.”
Earlier, RA advised motorists to use a secondary road through Chiradzulu. However, the road has also been rendered impassable as it is slippery and now in bad condition due to increased traffic volume.
Some people, notably students at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba and employees of various organisations working in either of the two cities, have been forced to play it safe at a very high cost as they have to travel 219 kilometres through Balaka and Liwonde to get to their destinations.
The distance between Blantyre and Zomba is about 64 kilometres.