Minister of Transport and Public Works Ralph Jooma says the upgrading of the 10-kilometre (km) section of Thunga-Didi-Nkhate road in Thyolo will commence mid-June this year.
The minister disclosed this on Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony of the construction work at folopesi ground in Thyolo.
Jooma said the ceremony marks the beginning of bituminizing the entire earth road which passes through the district’s hilly terrain connecting Thunga, Didi and Nkhate trading centres.
He added that funds for the construction work had already been identified and that the project is expected to be completed within nine months.
“We are going to complete the construction of this road within the stipulated time because everything is already in place. Let me also emphasise that we are using locally mobilized resources to implement such a project.
“Therefore people in this area should consider themselves fortunate because the road is one of the ten roads being upgraded from earth to bitumen standard using funds from the 2019 / 20 financial year,” said Jooma.
Asked why the ministry has scheduled the construction works mid-June, Jooma said the government is organizing advance payment of the contractor.
“We do not want the contractor to go on-site without any resources. I can confirm that the contractor will get an advance payment in the next two weeks,” said the minister.
Dika Construction has been given nine months to carry out the work on the section which is budgeted at K 4.1 billion.
Under the contract, the contractor is expected, among others, to raise the road’s vertical alignment, construct drainages and two bridges on Mapelera and Nkhate rivers as well as replacing old with new wider culverts.
Thyolo West legislator Charles Mchacha said the road among others is expected to ease transportation problems especially to banana, maize and avocado farmers and also cut road maintenance costs.
“The road is connecting to one end with East Bank road [in Chikwawa] and on the other with Limbe-Thyolo road at Thunga [trading centre]. This means people of this will benefit a lot because they will be able to transport their produce to markets using cheaper transport,” said Mchacha.