Depressing headlines in Malawi: Hiked MHC rentals effective Sept 1, Escom announces more blackouts and water crisis looms in Lilongwe

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    Malawians have been gripped with depressing headlines that dominates newspapers and online publications on Thursday.

    MHC CEO Eunice Napolo : New rentals effective September 1

    ‘New MHC rentals effective September 1,’ ‘Escom announces more blackouts’, ‘Water crisis looms in Lilongwe’. Needless to say, these are depressing headlines.

    Water Crisis

    On water crisis, Lilongwe Water Board chief executive office Alfonso Chikuni has told a joint parliamentary committee of Public Accounts Committee and that of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water and Budget and Finance Committee that the capital city would be in a water crisis which could affect the nation’s economy if the project to tap the water from Lake Malawi at a dizzying cost of $500 million (K375 billion) would be stopped.

    For starters, Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) awarded a contract to Khato Civils Pty Ltd and South Zambezi Pty Ltd Joint Venture for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction of Lake Malawi Water Supply for Lilongwe City at a contract amount of K29 billion plus $397 million (K400 billion). The project is expected to pump 50 million litres of water from Lake Malawi per day to meet the city’s ever growing population.

    Critics argue that while the idea of improving water supply to Lilongwe City is a noble one, and that it should be expedited, nothing should be done at the expense of making the whole country suffer.

    What is shocking is that despite the fact that it is a requirement under the Environmental Management Act to carry out an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for a water project of this size before conducting such a project, nothing of this sort has happened and it is only now after some people have raised eyebrows that authorities are saying an ESIA is underway.

    Blackout

    At a news conference in Blantyre, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) head of optic fibre communications, Chester Kabinda, said consumers should expect more power rationing.

    He said from Sunday, Escom will be implementing on the $23illion (about K16.8 billion) Malawi National Fibre Backbone Project, which will require switching off of the areas affected to pave way for the works.

    Kabinda said during the implementation period, areas where the corporation will be working on starting with Mapanga to Chiradzulu and then Zomba to Liwonde, will “switch off maybe two or three times a week.”

    Last month Electricity Generation Company Limited (Egenco) asked Malawians to expect more power load shedding this year due to low water levels in Lake Malawi and its sole outlet, Shire River.

    Rental hike

    Tenants in the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) units should expect to dig deeper in their pockets from September 1 as the corporation has announced that it will implement new house rentals nationwide.

    MHC said in a statement that it undertook an enquiry into the raise of rentals for its houses following the direction given by Ministry f Lands, Housing and Urban Development on the issues.

    “The chief executive office under the direction of the board has now completed the enquiry and has discussed the outcome with the Ministry f Lands, Housing and Urban Development that the proposed rental adjustment should be staggered,” reads the statement in part.

    MHC said it resolved to ensure a balance that would see the rentals being affordable to the tenant while the corporation continues to invest and maintain its properties as well as expanding its stock.

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