Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has lamented failure by the previous governments to rehabilitate the M1 Road, which he described as a backbone of Malawi’s entire road infrastructure and the economy.
Chakwera said failure by the previous administrations to renovate the road, despite offers of help from the country’s development partners in Europe, is evidence that for far too long, governments in this country have been preoccupied with things that divide us than what unites us.
He made the remarks at Mtiti Bridge in Dowa on Tuesday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation of the road.
The rehabilitation project covers over 300 kilometres from the Kamuzu International Airport Road junction to the Mzimba Boma and from Kacheche to Chiweta.
The European Investment Bank is financing the project to the tune of over €117 million (almost MK120 billion).
Chakwera stated that the rehabilitation of the M1 Road demonstrates his government’s commitment to deliver on its development promises to all Malawians.
“We are making a clear statement that a New Malawi is Rising that aims to unite all of Malawi, develop all of Malawi, prosper all of Malawi, and connect all of Malawi,” said the Malawi leader.
He added: “It connects us as Malawians. It connects us to the promise of our shared development, to the beauty of our shared environment, to the power of our shared culture, and to the prosperity of our shared markets.”
Chakwera said Malawians should expect a boom in business and economic activities with the rehabilitation of the road.
Chakwera said the with the rehabilitation of the M1 Road the country will see the flourishing of trade along the North-South Corridor, a regional trade route that links the two port cities of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Durban in South Africa.
Chakwera added: “We will see an uptick in the long-distance transportation of imports and exports from and to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We will see faster progress towards Malawi 2063 Vision of an inclusively wealth and self-reliant nation as Malawian businesses move goods and commodities faster and safer between trading centers and beyond our borders.
“We will see thousands of jobs created through the implementation of the project itself. We will see a reduction in accidents and transportation costs incurred through the wear and tear vehicles suffer on bad roads and the length of time it takes to travel on them. We will see other sectors thriving because of the ease of movement this project will facilitate, sectors like tourism, agriculture, education, tourism, and governance.”
At this point, the President thanked the European Union for providing the development package through the bank.
Chakwera said the Malawi-EU partnership is a model of the kind of development partnership Malawi is mainly interested in.
He argued that it does not make sense for Malawi to have development partners who cannot point to a single development project they have supported or are supporting in the country.
“If you are a development partner, your partnership must have ongoing development projects to show for it. It is not enough to just support social programmes whose sustainability cannot be guaranteed when what our country needs desperately are development projects that will last a generation, such as roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, institutional buildings, border posts, prisons, and sports facilities.
“There are so many opportunities for our development partners to be part of the New Malawi that is Rising right now, and the time to work together as partners and get these projects done is now. So to the European Union and the European Investment Bank, I say thank you,” said President Chakwera.