Malawi News Agency (Lilongwe)

9 July 2014

Malawi: Chimombo Communities Not Benefiting From Malawi Rural Electrification Program (MAREP)

Nsanje — It has been established that in the area of Traditional Authority Chimombo in Nsanje district has no maize mill despite some businessmen procuring five, but failing to start its operations due to inadequate power supply.

According to the Acting Traditional Authority Chimombo, in 2012the area was provided with electricity under the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme(MAREP) but the power is only used for lighting as the transformer is just very small.

The traditional leader said there are people in the area that showed interest to go into maize mill business but they have failed to do so as the transformer cannot provide enough power to cater for the same.

"We have the people who showed interest to venture into such business so that people in my area should not go for long distances looking for maize mills. For instance, there are five maize mills which are not in operational since 2012.

"The businessmen are failing to raise money to replace the one ESCOM mounted," he said.

Chimombo feels that the purpose of the project is has not be met as the people in his area not benefiting from it.

He said people could have been benefiting a lot if the power would have been used for maize mills operation.

"People in my area walk long distances looking for maize mills. On the other hand business persons in my area are not making business hence my area being affected economically.

"Therefore, as a leader, I want government to do something so that the community should fully benefit from the development or project," said Acting Traditional Authority Chimombo.

One of the businessmen, Matiyasi Batani said they are failing to raise money for the new transformer which can supply more power to their maize mails.

"In fact we bought the maize mills engines to make business as well as to serve the people in our community. But our engines are just idle since the transformer ESCOM provided cannot accommodate them.

"ESCOM asked us to procure one, which we are failing to do so as the K1.5 million is a huge amount of money. It is our plea to the government to consider us," he urged.

Felix Saphiya from the area of Chimombo claimed that in the past three years, four women have been washed way when they were attempting to cross Nyachipere and Nyankotola rivers to Mbenje where there are maize mills.

"The past three years, four women have died of wash away when they were going to maize mills. The lives of women in this area are at risk when rainy season comes," said Saphiya.

Margret Alexander of Gumbwa village in the area claimed that her mother was washed away when she was trying to cross Nyankotola river to a Maize mill, said as Malawians they are entitled for developments.

"It is not easy to have access to maize mills in rainy season. For your information, my mother died after being washed way when she was going to a maize mill. I think if we had one in our area, my mother could have been alive this time.

"We all need to have equal opportunity for developments hence the need for the government to do something," she said.

ESCOM's publicist Kitty Chingota refused to comment on the issue of transformer as she claimed the company was engaged as a contractor.

"MAREP was a government project. ESCOM was just a contractor. This to say, government is better placed to answer that," she said.

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines Atupele Muluzi said they are so many problems as regards to the MAREP and emphasized to find ways to address them.

He said some of the problems will be addressed in MAREP Phase Eight which is at designed stage.

"But on the issue of Traditional Authority Chimombo, let me find out from the ministry the type of transformer they mounted so that it has to be addressed as soon as possible," said Muluzi.

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