President Peter Mutharika says his government will hold talks with Mozambique to discuss the possibility of reviving the Shire Zambezi Waterway Project.
Speaking on Sunday at Chipusile School in Ntcheu where he laid a foundation stone for the 135 kilometre Tsangano–Neno–Mwanza road, Mutharika said Malawi is ready to revive the project though the Mozambican has been expressing doubts.
“The port is there, we are ready, the Zambian government is ready, Zimbabwe is ready, DRC is ready. However, our neighbour Mozambique has been having doubts but we will talk, very soon well have an agreement,” Mutharika said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government under late president Bingu wa Mutharika constructed the port in a bid to use the Shire-Zambezi waterway as a cheap way of transporting goods from Mozambique.
However, Bingu failed to open the port in 2010 after Mozambique impounded a Malawi bound vessel which would have symbolically launched the port.
His brother Peter promised to open the port but he is yet to do so four years after becoming president.
In 2016, Mozambique withdrew from a Memorandum of Understanding with Malawi and Zambia after a feasibility study showed that the waterway was neither viable nor sustainable in the short, medium and long term.
During the groundbreaking of the Tsangano–Neno-Mwanza road on Sunday, Mutharika said the road is important because it will help people in the three districts transport agricultural produce.
“The benefits of this road are too numerous as you know that Tsangano is an agriculture rich area where they grow lots of crops like Irish potatoes, cabbages, tomatoes, onions and others that we consume across Malawi. So its economic importance cannot be over emphasized,” he said.
Upgrading of the road from an earth road to bitumen commenced on April 3, 2018 and is expected to be completed in April 2019.
The construction work is being done by the Engineers Department of the Malawi Defence Forces (MDF) and so far over 10 kilometres of the road from Tsangano Turn Off has been covered with earth works.
The first phase of the road will cover 21 kilometres from Tsangano Turn Off to Kambilonjo Trading Centre and is being financed by government to the tune of K9.6 billion through Roads Authority (RA).