Roads Authority says it understands the strategic importance of the Chitipa Mbirima Border road as it offers an alternative to Malawians trading with Tanzania.
Authority Chief executive officer engineer Emmanuel Matapa says feasibility studies of the road have already been done and expectations are to upgrade it to bitumen standard from July this year.
He was speaking to Zodiak Online after protesters in Chitipa held violent demonstrations aimed at forcing government to upgrade the 31 kilometres road stretch.
"Currently works on detailed engineering designs are in progress. All things being equal, the upgrading of the road will hit the ground in July this year," said Matapa.
The road in question would aid cross-border trade with Tanzania. Cross border trade is a pre-occupation of a significant number of people in Chitipa district.
Dozens of other Malawians from other corners of the country also pass through Chitipa for cross-border trade with Tanzania and other East African countries.
"The issues is that in its current state, the road that connecting Chitipa boma and Mbirima border post is slippery during the rain season as its clay soils hence this prayer for a bitumen road," said Godfrey Chimatiro, a small scale business operator observing that the result has been that the road is synonymous with travelers spending hours or days on the road when vehicles get stuck.
The demonstrations have, therefore, been in a quest to attract government attention to the situation by demanding the removal of Malawi Revenue Authority staff at Mbirima border post.
"Why should we continue paying taxes when government has failed to provide the road infrastructure?" asked another business person.
The demonstrations reached a boiling point on Friday.
However, criminals also took advantage of the anarchy that ensued and hijacked the protests to begin breaking into shops and stealing. The military had to be called in to support the police restore order.
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Last modified on Saturday, 11/01/2020