Towards the end of last year, a fatal head-on collision accident, somewhere in Ntcheu on the M1 road, claimed the life of one of my best friends, Piyasoni Kachepatsonga. When I heard the news of his death, I was so shaken. Up to now I still do not understand why Piya had to leave this world in that way. More than 40 years after independence, we should have had a dual carriageway on the M1, Malawi’s main intercity road by now. The occurrence of head-on collision accidents on this road should have been history by now.
Whenever I talk about the need for us, Malawians, to start looking into how we can build a dual carriageway from Chitipa to Nsanje, most of the people that I talk to say we cannot do it because Malawi is poor. As I write, there is literally nothing happening on the ground in order to build this dual carriageway (correct me if I am wrong). Instead, what we hear is that the former president Bakili Muluzi, who is trying to retire from retirement, is castigating president Bingu wa Mutharika on the newly-rehabilitated Masauko Chipembere Highway in Blantyre, claiming Mutharika messed the original plans of having an overhead road above the highway. And Mutharika’s aide, Henry Chimunthu Banda, has hit back at Bakili Muluzi, saying it was Muluzi himself who rejected the idea in 2000 because it was too costly.
Although Chimunthu Banda seems to have the facts while Muluzi doesn’t, I am of the view that we do not need flyover roads as of now in Malawi. What we need is a dual carriageway from Chitipa to Nsanje! We are losing a lot of people on the M1 road through head-on collision accidents. I am not trying to suggest that all the accidents on this road are caused by head-on collisions but I am sure most of them are. If we can put our heads together and work for our nation and our people, we will not only build this dual carriageway but we will accomplish a lot of achievements e.g. replacing the Ilala and Mtendele vessels on Lake Malawi with new ones. The key is unity. Regardless of our political affiliations, we need to unite for the common good. The political rivalries in Malawi are only for a time. Those of you who have followed Malawi politics for sometime can agree with me that our politicians change like chameleons. There are no permanent enemies or friends in Malawi politics. One cannot tell how the political landscape will be after this year’s general elections. Our politicians call each other bad names today, tomorrow you see them dining and wining together while the masses that give them the political leverage are dying.
Malawi’s first president, Ngwazi, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda used to teach us that apart from the classroom environment, the process of learning can also be accomplished through travel (kuphunzira si sukulu yokha komanso kuyenda). In September 2007, when I traveled to Namibia for the IEEE Africon Conference, I learnt something which the authorities in Malawi can implement on the M1 road as we work towards the dual carriageway. The Nambians also have single carriageway from the Hosea Kutako International Airport to Windhoek City Centre but they have widened it in specific places to cater for those who are in hurry and want to overtake other cars.