Blantyre Water Board is implementing a project to increase water supply to the City of Blantyre and surrounding areas in order to improve its service delivery to its customers. The project is aimed at abstracting water from Likhubula River in Mulanje which is about 55 km away from the City of Blantyre. The project is being implemented with funding from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India Line of Credit to the tune of USD 23.5 million equivalent to MK 17.6 billion.
Currently, the Board is producing a total of 101 million litres per day from Walkers Ferry and Mudi Dam against a daily water demand of 123 million litres. This new project is expected to add 20 million litres of water into the supply area which will benefit a total of 300,000 people in Limbe, Bangwe, Mzedi, BCA Hill, Chigumula, Namiyango, Nguludi, Chiradzulu and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST).
This new project will ensure that water is available for at least 23 hours in a day for all people supplied from the Board. In addition, the project will assist Blantyre Water Board in reducing the cost of electricity as water will gravitate for a distance of about 44 km without being pumped. The cost of treatment of the water from Likhubula River will also be lower as the water quality of the River is generally good requiring minimal treatment.
The new project abstracts water from the Likhubula River downstream of one of the tourist attraction sites known as ‘Dziwe la Nkhalamba’ (Figure 1). The site was ideally selected to ensure abstraction of clean water and gravitation of raw water for a long distance to Blantyre. In addition, the selection of the site had also considered the sustenance of biodiversity by allowing some tributaries to continue providing life downstream.
The raw water from the intake at Likhubula River will be transmitted to a water treatment plant at Nguludi in Chiradzulu District where it will be treated and pumped to Blantyre. The Board will pump the water for a distance of about 11 km to Mpingwe hill where a new water storage tank has been constructed with a total capacity of 5 million litres. From the water storage tank, the water will be gravitated to Limbe, Chiradzulu, Bangwe, BCA Hill, Namiyango, Chigumula and Nguludi and further improve the water supply situation to thousands of people in the areas including industries.
The new water supply project which commenced on 1st November 2017 is being constructed by an Indian contractor known as SMC Infrastructures PVT Ltd of India. The project is being supervised by engineers from Blantyre Water Board specialized in Civil, Mechanical and Electrical engineering having also successfully supervised pumping station rehabilitation works, construction of booster stations and concrete tanks with associated pipelines between 2010 and 2015. This project is expected to be commissioned by 30th June 2019 after a 20-month construction period.
By early June 2019, all the project components had been completed except for the pumping main from Nguludi to Mpingwe tank which was expected to be completed within the month. Figure 2 are photos of some of the finished components of the project.
Project Challenges and Successes
Just as in any other project, there were a few challenges that were registered since the beginning of the new water source project. Among the challenges included land and property compensations and effects of cyclone Edai which delayed progress of some of the project components. However, the Board and the Contractor worked together to resolve all these challenges to ensure that the project is completed within the scheduled period.
Blantyre Water Board is happy to see that all the project objectives are being fulfilled, and that the people of Blantyre will continue to enjoy the best services being provided by the Board. The addition of 20 million litres will increase supply hours from an average of 18 to 23 hours in all the areas within the Board’s supply area. This increase in supply will also ensure the Board’s expansion of its water supply coverage beyond the current level of 85 % to about 95% by 2020.