Africa-Press – Malawi. Advocacy For Eastern Region Development (AFERD), a grouping of concerned citizens from the Eastern region has disclosed that it will hold mass demonstrations aimed at forcing the Government to consider rehabilitating Chingeni-Balaka-Liwonde-Zomba road which according to the grouping has turned into a death-trap. The grouping was earlier expected to hold the demos on 11 August but it has moved the protest to 15 August, 2022 amid security concerns.
Speaking yesterday after holding an interface meeting with the acting District Commissioner for Balaka and Balaka Police Station Officer in-charge, AFERD chairperson Madalitso Banda confirmed plans to reschedule the demos to pave way for smooth progress of the Junior Certificate Examinations (JCE) which are currently in progress.
“We have accepted to postpone the demos to 15 August, 2022 considering the fact that students are sitting for their exams. We understand the concerns raised by the DC and Police and we have no other option but to bow down to their request,” Banda said.
Balaka Police Station Officer in-charge, Dan Sauten, while acknowledging that it is everybody’s constitutional right to hold demonstrations, noted that the demonstrations by AFERD were poorly planned and had a possibility of causing distress and panic as Form 2 students are sitting for their exams.
“Security is paramount in any demonstrations. You can see that currently our officers are busy monitoring examinations and we have a few officers at the office. To go ahead with the demos as earlier planned would therefore cause some security challenges,” Sauten said.
Earlier last month, the grouping alleged that it had written Minister of Transport and Public works, Jacob Hara, the Roads Authority and other stakeholders to an interface meeting but none of them showed up. However, Ministry of Transport and Public works spokesperson Kelvin Sato has denied receiving any letter from the grouping.