By Salome Gangire
Youths in Mzuzu have demanded that government withdraws plans of relocating Mzuzu Youth Centre construction site from the city to Dunduzu observing that the area is far from the majority youths who reside within the city.
The youths said on Monday that government did not consult them on the new development.
According to the youths, Government announced the relocation of the construction site to Dunduzu saying the current site is not enough to accommodate all the facilities for a youth centre.
Reading from a statement at a press briefing which was organised by concerned youth at the current construction site, Director for Centre for Youth and Development, James Gondwe said the reasons provided for the relocation are not justified saying it is a ploy to delay the implementation of the project.
“This is not the first time the project is being relocated, at first it was located behind Katoto Secondary School Ground and the very same reason arose. They then shifted it to the land behind Toyota Malawi basing on the designs that were provided and a foundation stone was laid marking the commencement of construction works,” said Gondwe.
He said the new proposed site is eight kilometres away from Mzuzu Central Business District meaning that many young people will be facing challenges in accessing it.
“We were not even consulted on this change, we were supposed to be consulted as the primary users of the facility,” he said.
Gondwe who is also Chairperson for District Youth Technical working group for Mzuzu said the youth are fearing that the project might be relocated to pave way for private investors to take up land of the current project site.
“Youth in Mzuzu are demanding that the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture should account for the money which it has been spending on the project as parliament was allocating resources every financial year towards the project as we cannot see anything tangible on the site.
The ministry has failed to account for the resources and we believe the relocation is one way of syphoning funds meant for the centre,” he said.
The youth, therefore demanded that the ministry withdraws its decision forthwith and that construction should start as soon as possible as K500 million has already been provided for in the 2019/20 financial year.
The concerned youths also demanded an audience with the minister responsible and other stakeholders on October 30 where the ministry should account for all the money it has spent on the project so far.
The youth have issued a stern warning saying the land behind Toyota Malawi was allocated for Mzuzu Youth centre and will remain so. They warned that they will take unspecified action if the ministry goes ahead with its current decision.
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture spokesperson, Simon Mbvundula said the ministry is going to engage the youth on the proposed relocation.
“We planned to brief the youth on the proposed relocation but we could not do it on time. The plans are still on and we hope the meeting will give both sides an opportunity to appreciate concerns of one another,” Mbvundula said.
He added that the youths are the major stakeholders as beneficiaries and the ministry will engage them alongside other stakeholders including Mzuzu City Council and Commissioners for Lands for their inputs.-MANA