By Allan Mthandizi
Malawi Civil Society Organizations led by their umbrella body Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) have written a strongly worded statement calling upon quick implementation of Salima – Lilongwe Water Project. “We Civil Society Organizations have welcomed the ruling of the Malawi Supreme Court on the Lake Malawi Water Supply project of which The Contractor, Khato Civils has been cleared to continue with the project. The ruling provides an opportunity for The Contractor to continue with mobilizing resources and equipment thereby commencing with the project.”
The CSOs have since appealed for Khato to expedite the Project implementation. “It is our credence that from the court decision, there will be no other impediments to the project and we will allow the Contractor and Government to proceed with the project, which would provide clean and affordable water to citizens of Lilongwe and surrounding areas throughout the year.”
The CSOs have also sent strong appeal towards Malawi Leader Professor Peter Mutharika to give proper directions on the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project. In a joint statement, Robert Mkwezalamba of HRCC, Fryson Chodzi of Forum for National Development, Emily Nangozo Banda, Lucky Mbewe and others, said it is time for the Malawi leadership show and demonstrate that he is guiding the project than just looking from a far. “We urge the State President to provide direction on the project as this is of national interest and development. Presidential direction on the matter is very important as we fear some of the Ministers and Government Officials entrusted to oversee the project might be compromised as evidenced by the fact that they have been conspicuously absent when it mattered most or their actions have fueled further delay of the project.” Reads the statement in part.
CSOs have welcomed ruling by the Supreme Court that the project should proceed. “As a development conscious Organizations, we find the ruling by the courts as good news for the citizens of Lilongwe and surrounding districts, that finally they might have access to clean water throughout the year than the current case, that from the months of August to December, the citizens have sporadic water supply from the taps.”
CSOs argue that Lake Malawi Water Supply Project is an opportunity to address the water problems affecting the 1.4 million citizens of Lilongwe and also over a million others, in the surrounding areas. CSOs further says, Lilongwe City has suffered worst dry taps year in and year out, as a result of low water levels of Kamuzu Dam 1 and 2, which has been the source of water for Lilongwe since the time immemorial. “The worst affected areas of dry taps have been the poor locations of Lilongwe such as Area 25, Area 24, Area 23, Mtsiliza, Area 49, Mtandire, and Chinsapo among others within the city, which for some days would run for 5 days without tap water.
The opposition that the Lake Malawi Water Supply Project has faced, has created an impression that those people living in the well to do locations of Lilongwe never care for the plight of the women and people living in the poor communities as most people opposing the project are living in the comfort locations which usually do not face dry taps when there is water scarcity.”
The Human Rights bodies further says while not undermining the issues raised by Law Society of Malawi and others in trying to put procedural questions of the project, it is their conviction that the delay of the project, further subject residence of Lilongwe especially from poor locations, to misery in regards to access to water. “As progressive CSOs, we appreciate the role that Malawi Law Society took in public litigation as it was the only way that all elements of the project have been cleared.
It’s a pity that 53 years after independence, the people in the Capital City of Malawi, Lilongwe, continue to access unsafe water as the taps run dry and the project that offer a lasting solution is being opposed by some quarters within the country.”