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The Role of Local Authorities in the Management of the Roads in Malawi

The Role of Local Authorities in the Management of the Roads in Malawi. Introduction. The Annual National Programme of the Roads Authority (RA) is designed to meet short to medium term social, economic and development policies of the government as stipulated in the;

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The Role of Local Authorities in the Management of the Roads in Malawi

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  1. The Role of Local Authorities in the Management of the Roads in Malawi

  2. Introduction • The Annual National Programme of the Roads Authority (RA) is designed to meet short to medium term social, economic and development policies of the government as stipulated in the; • Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS), • The National Transport Policy (NTP), • The Roads Sector Programme (RSP), T • The RA Five Year Business and Strategic Plan.

  3. The MGDS is the overcharging development strategy for Malawi for the next five years from 2006/07 to 2010/2011 fiscal year. • It presents a policy framework that articulates issues related to both economic growth and development. • The purpose of MGDS is to serve as a single reference document for policy makers in government, the private sector, and cooperating partners on government’s socio-economic development policies.

  4. Infrastructure is critical to achieving the growth and social objectives of government. • Investment in the transport infrastructure such as roads, rail, air and water has direct impact in linking production and markets as well as improving access to social services • Improved transportation reduces transport cost and leads to creation of marketing network • Construction of infrastructures will create employment of people, thereby contributing to poverty reduction

  5. The national transport goal is to ensure the provision of a coordinated transport environment that fosters a safe and competitive operation of commercially viable, financially sustainable, and environmentally friendly transport services • With respect to roads the National Transport Policy seeks to provide an adequate network of roads for the movement of goods and people within, into and out of Malawi, and facilitate the continued development of the country’s rural areas. Through this policy areas of production would be linked to areas of consumption at national, sub-regional and international levels.

  6. Road Transport • Road transport is the main mode of transport in Malawi • Road handles more than 70% of internal freight and 99% of passenger traffic • Road transport handles more than 90% of international freight and passenger traffic • It is due to this large volume on internal freight and passenger traffic that Malawi government has given high priority to maintenance and construction of roads in Malawi.

  7. Studies have indicated that, while the core road network seems to be in fair condition, the condition of rural roads and township roads is below average within Southern Africa region leading to high operating cost • It is actually estimated that 55% of the costs of production are taken up by transportation costs in Malawi compared to 17% of other developing countries

  8. Providing improved road network which would reduce the cost of transportation from rural areas to the markets is therefore one of the key challenges in the fight of poverty reduction in Malawi • Several players have so far been involved in road maintenance activities in Malawi • Roads Authority • Malawi Social Action Fund • Local Authorities • EU-Public Works Programme

  9. This paper has focused on the role of Local Authorities in the Management of Roads in Malawi. • According to the Local Government Act (1998) and Decentralization Policy (1998) the responsibility of maintaining rural roads which are not under central government is in the hands of the Local Authorities. The Act defines ‘Local Authority’ as district assembly, Town assembly, Municipal assembly or City Assembly. The roads under the assemblies include; district roads, township roads, city roads and housing estate roads. • In addition to the 1998 Local Government Act which provides for empowering local authorities, Chapter XIV, section 146, sub section 2 of the new 1995 constitution of Malawi provides for creation of local authorities capable of providing infrastructural and economic development in the country. One can therefore conclude that the Local Authorities are also empowered by the supreme law of the land to be involved in the Management of roads in Malawi.

  10. Purpose of the Roads Authority • The Roads Authority was established in 2006 through an Act of Parliament (No. 3 of 2006). • The Minister of Transport and Public Works represents the Government as the ultimate owner of the national road network. • The Roads Authority comes under the Minister, and comprises of a Board with a Secretariat. • The Roads Authority Board consist of ten members: • Six members, including the chairman, representing the private sector • Two members representing Public Organizations (Local Government Authorities and City Assemblies). • Two ex-officio members representing Secretaries for Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Housing and Local Government).

  11. The main objectives of the Roads Authority Board • Ensure that Public roads are constructed, maintained or rehabilitated at all times • Advise the Minister, and where appropriate, the Minister responsible for Local Government on the preparation and efficient and effective implementation of the annual national roads programme referred to in section 22 of the Roads Authority Act.

  12. The Roads Authority Five Year Strategic Business Plan • The Roads Authority developed a five year-year business and strategic plan whose main objective is to improve accessibility of roads for the benefit of the population. The present road network condition is; • 21% good, • 37% fair and • 42% poor. The targeted road network condition by year 2011 is; • 71% good, • 18% fair and • 11% poor.

  13. The above targets would be achieved by carrying out the following road programme interventions. • Routine maintenance of paved and unpaved roads • Periodic maintenance of paved and unpaved road network • Rehabilitation of paved and unpaved roads • Upgrading and construction of earth road to paved roads, and • Replacement of timber decked bridges with concrete decked bridges

  14. The Malawi Road Network • The Road Network is composed of 15.451km of which about 26% are paved. 74% of the road network is earth/gravel surface. • Road re-classification studies done in 2006 identified about 9,478km of undesignated road network that serve the rural communities. • The main, secondary and tertiary roads effectively make up the country’s core network, with remaining roads acting as feeder system.

  15. Malawi Road Network Classification (April 2008)

  16. The Current Role of the Local Authorities in Management of Roads • Since 1999 when the Ministry of Works stopped maintaining roads directly four institutions namely • NRA, • MASAF, • Local Authorities and • Public Works Programme (PMU) have been involved in road maintenance activities at urban and district assembly level.

  17. (a) The Local Assemblies are under Ministry of Local Government and were empowered by the 1998 Local government Act to be maintaining roads within the urban areas or districts. As discussed earlier, the assemblies were to be funded by the NRA and through local taxes within the district and donor communities in addition to the government direct transfers. However due to capacity issues the ability of the assemblies to maintain urban and district roads on their own has not been satisfactory.

  18. (b) The Public Works Program Unit (PMU) funded by European Union through local government assist in road maintenance by using labour intensive methods in selected areas within the districts with an aim of empowering local Malawians financially and ensuring ownership of the structures. But since these are grant aid programmes they normally come to an end at the end of program periods and they only target limited areas.

  19. (c) The Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF) was instituted by government in 1995 to be directly funding rural communities in different development activities, road maintenance inclusive, as away of empowering the rural communities economically. Its main focus was not road maintenance but any other development activity chosen by the community itself. There were however no specific working agreements between MASAF and the NRA as a result there was no institution to harmonize and coordinate road maintenance specifications and standards.

  20. (d) According to the 1997 National Roads Authority Act, the overall objectives of the NRA were to collect money for all road maintenance activities in Malawi and to maintain all designated roads in Malawi. • The NRA was supposed to be remitting about 35% of the collected revenue through fuel levy to the assemblies for maintenance of roads in the assemblies and use the remaining 65% for maintaining the central roads. • However due to capacity problems in the assemblies the NRA took the responsibility of maintaining the urban and district roads. The key role for the Local Assemblies in this case was to assist in planning by identifying priority roads for maintenance within each assembly road network; in direct consultation with NRA zonal offices.

  21. The NRA now has been replaced by two new institutions; • the Roads Authority formed by an Act of parliament of 2006 to be specifically responsible for road maintenance, and • the Road Fund Administration also formed by Act of parliament of 2006 to be specifically responsible for collecting and disbursing road maintenance funds to both the Local Assemblies and the RA • The two new institutions became operational in July 2007. The RA has three Regional Offices working in close liaison with the local assemblies within each region.

  22. The Current Role of the RA in Management of Urban & District Roads • Due to capacity problems in the Local Assemblies the Roads Authority maintains and rehabilitates urban and district roads using 35% of total road maintenance annual budget. • The roads to be maintained are prioritized by the assemblies themselves through a standard Form for budget proposal, which is sent to all assemblies each year during budgeting period

  23. The assemblies prioritize the designated district roads based on equity, accessibility, potential mode of transport and road network linkages among other reasons. This consultation is very crucial because it ensures that the most important urban and district roads are prioritized and therefore maintained to the acceptable service level all the time • The Roads Authority however encounters challenges during this process because not all assemblies submit the information on time. In some cases no input is obtained from the assemblies. The prioritization in other instances is done without consulting all concerned stakeholders (e.g. Members of Parliament and Traditional Authorities)

  24. The Ideal Roles & Responsibilities of the RA and Local Authorities in the Management of Urban & District Roads • The Road Maintenance Initiative (RMI) proposed the creation of Roads Authority to be primarily responsible for the maintenance of the core network (main, secondary and tertiary roads). The assemblies were supposed to be responsible for maintaining the urban, district and other feeder roads as roads authorities in their own respect.

  25. Under this arrangement the assemblies would draw funds from the Road Fund for the routine and periodic maintenance of roads, tracks and trails on a cost sharing basis. (Road Fund Act No. 4 of 2006 section 19 (a) (ii). This is because the current funding level of 35% of Annual National Roads budget for the maintenance of urban and district roads is not adequate to cover all the roads under the district and city assemblies

  26. The assemblies should therefore develop capacities to handle road maintenance/rehabilitation of roads within their mandate. They should have the capacity to: • Prepare annual roads programme for submission to the Road Fund Administration. • Prepare bidding documents to be used for procurement of works and services from civil engineering contractors/consultants. • Monitor/supervise the implementation of the works through consultants. • Approve payment certificates of contractors/consultants for direct payment by the Roads Fund Administration.

  27. The Roads Authority should therefore gradually devolve responsibilities to the assemblies for maintenance of urban & district roads. The RA in turn will concentrate on the maintenance and rehabilitation of the core network of 10,603 km. Technical assistance in the preparation, procurement and implementation of the works contracts should continue to be rendered by the RA until the assemblies have acquired appropriate capacities

  28. Key Stumbling blocks for successful Participation of Local Authorities in the Management of Roads • Secure existence of actors mainly at lower level. Local authorities or lower level institutions where authority and power has been transferred can not perform properly if their authority is being influence by those in higher Authority

  29. Capacity (Resources) and autonomy (a) The local authorities should have the right to collect local taxes and fees and to solicit funds from central government necessary for them to execute tasks and responsibilities transferred to them. (b) They should have the right to spend the collected money without excessive prior authorization by higher levels of government. (c) They should have the right to make decisions on local activities including local development projects without undue interference by national planning authorities and line ministries (d) The local authorities should have sufficient, well trained and qualified local staff and the right to appoint and dismiss such staff if necessary. (e) They should have necessary technical support and advice from the higher level government.

  30. Accountability and Transparency (a) Making the local authorities accountable to their members and citizens. (b) The local authorities should also be accountable to the higher levels of government. The supervising authorities should exercise some control regarding financial matters and should have well established procedures for punishing those who have violated the procedures.

  31. Political Will The success of any decentralization efforts including road management depends, to a larger extent, on a strong political will. There should be a strong political will for government to implement its policies. Lack of political will may have had negative impact on proper management of road maintenance activities in Malawi.

  32. Strong Legal framework and Legitimacy. There is need for a properly set-out and clear legal frame work in terms of powers, rights, duties and responsibilities. Without such a framework it is always impossible to know who is responsible for what category of road network.

  33. Additional Roles which the District Assemblies should play in the Management of Roads in Malawi • The District Assemblies have major role to play in stopping vandalism and illegal development within the road reserve. The Chiefs can be sensitized on the negative impact of vandalizing road signs and drainage structures so that they take ownership of the road infrastructure. • Cultivation within the road reserve and side drains is quite rampant in all the districts of the country. District Assemblies through the local leaders can act decisively on this matter. Most roads get damaged/ weakened due to stagnant water along the road side drains, which have been blocked deliberately. • Construction of structures within the road reserve is another area in which the assemblies can play a vital role in halting this malpractice by issuing stop orders to such developments.

  34. Way forward As a way forward the following need to be looked into; • The issue of technical capacities in the assemblies needs to be addressed immediately so as to empower them to manage the road network under their jurisdiction. • There is need for well documented procedure agreements between Roads Fund Administration and the Local Authorities in the funding and management of the urban & district roads. • There should be a strong political will from government to complete the decentralization process to enable the local assemblies make autonomous decisions in the management of urban & district road network.

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