By Cosmas Kaunga, ESCOM Outreach Officer
Anthony Tamayenda of Zalewa in Neno District thought his world had crumbled around him when, a few years ago, he heard that a project called Mozambique-Malawi (MOMA)Power Transmission 400kV Interconnection Project would displace him from his piece of land.
The Malawi Government is implementing the MOMA project through the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), courtesy of funding from the World Bank, the European Bank and KfW to the tune of $154 million.
Construction of the power transmission line from Matambo in Tete, Mozambique, to Malawi via Mwanza, Neno then Phombeya Power Substation in Balaka, meant that all people and their properties located along the wayleave—where power line would pass through— would inevitably be displaced.
Therefore, Tamayenda, with hesitation and uncertainty, accepted to move off his ancestral piece of land, giving up his property such as a house and farmland.
A few years later, all that anxiety has been replaced by happiness for Tamayenda who is now constructing a house he could never have imagined in his life.
He is among the beneficiaries of compensations disbursed to people affected by the MOMA. Actually, the man from Traditional Authority Symon, heads the Community Grievance Redress Committee (CGRC) in Zalewa.
The committee handles all issues people affected by the construction of line might have.
Tamayenda said the compensation has made it possible for him to construct a house, which he plans to commercialise and earn a living from its proceeds.
“When I first heard that ESCOM would undertake a project and it would affect us, I was afraid that I would lose my piece of land,” he said.
“But after ESCOM staff came to assess my assets [trees and land] that will be affected by the project, they promised me compensation. I was, after a few months, alerted by bank officials that ESCOM had deposited the compensation money into my bank account,” he said.
Tamayenda said he is happy with the compensation amounts as it reflects the market value of the assets that were affected.
Tamayenda further indicated that in his area, some of the beneficieries of the compensations, are women, the physically challenged and the elderly such as Eliness Kafakoma.
“Financial literacy training which centered on budgeting, savings and investing that ESCOM offered us before giving us the compensations, made it possible for everyone to save and invest the money wisely,” he said.
Kafakoma, who is aged 101 years, bought cattle from the compensation money after her trees, house and farmland were affected by the MOMA project.
She said the compensation money has enabled her to live a better life, as she is able to buy basic needs such as food and clothes.
“We have also been able to buy enough fertilizer for our gardens and we hope to have bumper yield to take us through this year. We will also keep the cattle so that they reproduce before we can commercialise cattle farming,” she said.
Kafakoma and Tamayenda are among the beneficiaries of the compensations which have been given to nine communities in the area.
Other beneficiaries have bought farm land, houses, motor vehicles thereby improving their living standards.
The project, which is expected to be completed by November this year, will pump 120MW into the national grid from Mozambique; hence, ensuring reliable supply in the country to support economic development in accordance with Vision 2063.
On Tuesday, February 7 2023, ESCOM officials went for a site visit in Neno and Mwanza District to appreciate how compensations disbursed to people affected by the MOMA Project are benefiting them.
ESCOM was accompanied by officials from Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), a German State-owned organisation that identifies and undertakes projects in developing countries to promote sustainable development. KfW is also one of the financiers of MOMA.
ESCOM Social and Gender Inclusion Manager, Elube Chienda, said the site visit was aimed at monitoring how people affected by the project are coping after being given compensations for acquisitions of the wayleave corridor.
“We are now implementing the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP), which is being spearheaded by Asian Consulting Engineers (ACE). As you may be aware that when we are implementing huge projects like this, which requires construction of power lines, we have to acquire wayleave corridor. This calls for the need to resettle people throughout the corridor,” she said.
Chienda said in some cases, ESCOM pays monetary compensations for damaged trees, crops and acquired land, and in other instances, demolish houses and resettle people.
“RAP is very important as it will necessitate completion of corridor clearance so that the contractor can start construction works,” she said.
“As ESCOM, we have completed giving out these compensations to Persons Affected by the Project (PAPs) and now we want to appreciate how PAPs have indeed been compensated and/or resettled in a way that their livelihoods are improved,” she said.
The compensations have been given to nine communities in the area and other beneficiaries have been able to buy farm land, houses, motor vehicles and also improve their living standards.
Nagarajan Kappan, Site Manager for Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T), a company that is constructing MOMA Interconnection line, said the completion of the RAP is very important as it paves the way for the construction of towers’ foundations.
“We have already received materials enough to construct 120 towers which amounts to 63 percent of the materials needed for the project. We will ensure that we work with speed to complete the project on time,” he said.
Chienda said she is fascinated at how the beneficiaries have utilized the compensations to improve their livelihoods.
“ESCOM recognizes that it does not operate in a vacuum and such testimonies of improved livelihoods in communities we work in make us compassionate and geared to do even better in all our endeavors,” she said.
Meanwhile, construction works of the 400kV power line is set to start with the construction of the towers’ foundations.
Malawi President Dr Lazarus Chakwera, on April 21 2022, joined his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi in laying a foundation stone for the construction of the MOMA Project.
Nyusi visited Malawi last year to participate in the launching ceremony for the MOMA Project at Phombeya Power Substation in Balaka District on 23 November 2021.
The Malawi government is implementing the project through ESCOM whereas EDM is doing the same for the Mozambican government.
Construction of the 218-kilometre power line, which includes 76 kilometres for the Malawi stretch, is scheduled to end in 2023. Total project cost is USD127 million.
Tamayenda takes a picture with ESCOM, KfW and ACE officials
In picture Antony Tamayenda (beneficiary) at his newly constructed house from compensation money_
In picture Eliness Kafakoma (right) and her daughter Lolida Malizani (left)
A cattle kraal for Eliness Kafakoma