A grouping of Mulanje residents has insisted that the Malawi government has to first plant trees in the district before embarking on a project aimed at tapping water from Mulanje Mountain.
The development comes days after President Peter Mutharika, during a press briefing in Lilongwe last Friday, said he will soon launch the multibillion Kwacha project.
Mutharika said the project is aiming at reducing water challenges that have affected most districts in the southern region of Malawi including the commercial city of Blantyre.
However, the grouping, Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje (CPM), through its secretary David Machewate says it will not be good to commission the water project before planting trees on Mulanje Mountain.
Machewate said CPM and the Malawi government agreed weeks ago that government will plant trees on the mountain but up to date not even a single tree has been planted.
He added that he wonders why government is rushing to launch the water project though it has not fulfilled its agreement on the matter.
“To be honest, we are also hearing from the media that the president will be coming to Mulanje to launch the water project. It is just a rumour because it has not been confirmed to CPM that the president is really coming or not.
“We sat down some time back when we agreed that before tapping water from Mulanje Mountain, we should plant some trees at a distance of 3500 hectares but we have not yet planted even a single tree,” said Machewate.
He added that they are still waiting for the government and other stakeholders to go there for a meeting with CPM to discuss when will they start planting trees as per their agreement.
The community members also want to benefit from the potable water that will be pumped from their area.
Two months ago, the villagers chased away Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda and stoned his vehicle after he went to the district to tour the project site.