BLANTYRE, Malawi, March 9 (Xinhua) — The newly refurbished Karonga-Songwe road, one of Malawi’s priority routes for regional trade, endowed the landlocked country with easier access to neighboring Tanzania, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has said.
The road served as the lifeblood of Malawi’s trade, connecting the country with the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Mutharika said on Thursday, while attending the launching ceremony in Karonga District, a northern region district which lies about 533 km north of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe.
The road has brought Malawi more open to further international trade, Mutharika said.
“Many Malawians import cars through this road while others use it to import various products from Tanzania for sale in Malawi, making the Karonga-Songwe road very important to this country,” he said.
Funded by the World Bank under the Southern Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Project to the tune of 24 million U.S. dollars, the 46-km road has been under renovation since June 2017 by a Chinese company named Zhejiang Communications Construction Group Co., Ltd.
The road is part of the North-South Corridor that runs from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to the port of Durban in South Africa, whose renovation was made to improve the regional road network in eastern and southern parts of Africa and facilitate the movement of people and goods in countries along the corridor.
“No country can develop without a good road network. As Malawi is moving from poverty to prosperity, we are building new roads for Malawians to travel and it is the aim of my government to cover every part of Malawi with tar roads,” Mutharika said.
The newly updated Karonga-Songwe road has a bigger capacity and has “reduced vehicle operating costs because of the high-quality service,” said Chikondi Msusa Chilipa, World Bank transport specialist in Malawi.
Apart from the Karonga-Songwe road, the World Bank project also aimed to reduce cross-border traffic by modernizing Malawi’s official entry points to Tanzania and Mozambique.