Overwhelmed by demands for bridges in rural areas by Members of Parliament (MPs), the Ministry of Transport and Public Works is implementing a Special Bridges Program aimed at constructing rural bridges to mitigate challenges communities are facing in terms of connectivity of the rural feeder roads.
Nyasa Times understands that the construction of rural bridges is a responsibility of district councils using funds they receive through various windows.
The bridges do not fall under the Ministry of Transport and Public Works because they are on undesignated roads.
However, Minister Jappie Mhango says his ministry is aware that funds in district councils could not be enough, hence the Special Bridges Program so that rural communities still have improved connectivity.
"The available money provided to district councils may not be adequate to build bridges across so many rivers in rural areas. In trying to help, we came up with this program to which we have allocated some substantial amount of money," said Mhango.
The minister added: "MPs always ask me for these bridges and I cannot keep telling them that this is not under my ministry other than just coming up with this program to help each other".
According to Mhango, his ministry used 700 million kwacha in the first phase of the program.
"We are spending 1.2 billion kwacha in the second phase currently underway and we will be using almost the same amount in the third phase to begin shortly," he disclosed.
Mhango said the program is sustainable because timber deck bridges are being replaced with concrete deck ones that could last many years.