Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said street lights in cities play a vital role in enhancing security of residents and promotion of safety for road users.
Nankhumwa was speaking in Blantyre on March 22, 2017 during the Commissioning of the Masauko Chipembere Highway Street Lighting. The lights start from Larji Kudji in Blantyre up to Midima Roundabout in Limbe.
The project was funded to the tune of K450 million under a financing agreement between Blantyre City Council (BCC) and the Roads Fund Administration (RFA).
The RFA under the Road Safety Programme provided 90 percent of the project funds while BCC contributed 10 percent apart from administration and monitoring.
Nankhumwa said government was engaging stakeholders regardless of political interests, to embark on major projects aimed at improving and expanding the street lighting and road network.
This, he said, was to ensure maximum security and accommodate steadily increasing traffic congestion in cities, especially Blantyre and Lilongwe.
Said Nankhumwa: “Street lights in our cities play a very vital role. Not only do they light up the City but also enhance security of the citizens and promote road safety for road users. Therefore, an urban road is not complete without street lights.”
“Most importantly, the State President is currently championing private Sector development in order to transform this country from a predominantly importing and consuming nation to a producing and exporting nation. A City that is well lit throughout the night promotes trade, and socioeconomic development,” he added.
The Minister said government has made a bold decision to devolve the responsibility of roads construction and upgrading to the local authorities starting with the cities.
“Implementation of such projects within a short period of time has given me assurance that Blantyre City Council has the capacity to implement its reform areas within the given period of time.
The quality of the street lights and the ability of the council to properly use and account for the project resources have obviously attracted government attention at the time the general public is bemoaning the poor quality of some projects implemented by some of our councils and issues of public finance management at local level,” he said.
Visibly excited, Mayor of Blantyre City Wild Ndipo made a passionate appeal to residents to protect the facilities that are being installed in the City from vandalism and theft.
Ndipo said it was unfortunate that the Council was spending resources re-installing street lighting along the Highway following the theft of the old facilities.
“My appeal, therefore, to fellow residents, is that let us change our mindset, our perception and our way of doing things otherwise this project will be in vain if we do not protect and guard against theft and vandalism,” said Ndipo.
He added: “Let us look at these street lights as our things and not as their (Council) things. The Police have a duty to bring these vandals before Court while the judiciary has a duty to punish those found guilty severely so that others are deterred.”
Ndipo said from the idea of putting street lights to the way the job had been executed including the actual workmanship; the Council had demonstrated credibility as an agency which RFA could use in achieving its critical role in the development of the road network and infrastructure in Blantyre City.
RFA Board Chairperson, Bernadette Mandoloma, while pledging more funding of similar nature, cautioned all councils to ensure that works are of quality and completed on time.
Mandoloma said her institution had in the past financial year disbursed various amounts of money for street lighting and city road rehabilitation programme.
“We are keen to see the city councils carry out the projects with diligence and efficiency, we cannot afford to continuously relax when funds are readily available,” said Mandoloma.
“Let me call upon all councils who have been financed to up their task and emulate the example of Blantyre City Council to ensure that all works are fully completed on time and of high quality.
“The residents of our cities deserve better roads and safer streets. We, at the RFA, are fully committed to complement government agenda of improving our city roads and infrastructure,” she said.
The Masauko Chipembere Highway Street Lighting Project was implemented by two contractors; the poles were erected by CAS Civil Contractors while the lights were installed by HPC Africa.