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Roads Authority (RA) is a quasi-government institution established by an Act of Parliament (No. 3 of 2006). It comprises of a Board and secretariat.
RA is a public institution, and reports to the Ministry of Transport and Public works, which provides policy directions and determines standards in the road sector and provides overall supervision of RA. RA is an implementation agency of the Ministries road works, policies and programmes.
3.1 According to the Roads Authority Act of 2006, the Roads Authority Mandate is to ensure that Public roads are constructed, maintained or rehabilitated all at all times. 3.2 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.
RA manages the following road works 4.1 Construction – These are generally large road works involving building of a new roads. This requires a lot of money and specialist equipment as the work might involve earth moving, rock blasting etc. An example is the construction of Malowa – Goliati road or Karonga- Chitipa road. When such works are completed, the agreement is that in the first year after completion, the contractor is supposed to correct or put right any defects that may arise on the road due to workmanship. This is called defects liability period. 4.2 Periodic Maintenance – This is maintenance works that are occasionally required at intervals of several years depending on the original type of the road. Normally relatively costly, large scale works requiring specialist equipment and skilled resources. For example when a new road is constructed as explained above, the standard is it will require periodic maintenance after every 3 years if it is asphalt. 4.3 Routine maintenance – Maintenance works required continuously or at intervals during a year. For example when a new road is constructed it will require road markings, maintenance of road furniture/signs, grass cutting in the sides, drainage cleaning, culvert cleaning, grading etc. Routine maintenance also involves pothole patching.
Roads Authority is responsible for a total of roughly 25,000 kms of Malawi’s total road network. It is responsible for all the major roads designated as Main roads, secondary roads as well as Tertiary and District roads. However, according to 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 roads under assemblies include: district roads, township roads, city roads and housing estate roads .
Road works are now funded by the Road Fund Administration (RFA) who are mandated to collect and account for all the funds intended for road works in Malawi. Such funds come from fuel levy, Parliamentary Appropriations, Donors, and Development Partners such as European Union, African Development Bank, Nordic Development Fund, Chinese Government, Japanese Government, Badea, OPEC/Kuwait fund for international development, World Bank etc
Road construction, maintenance and rehabilitation require a lot of money which run into billions. For example the cost of doing rehabilitation is about MK30million per kilometer (the figure has been taken from the recent rehabilitation of Chidzanja road in Lilongwe). This figure does not include shoulders and drainage works. If RA was to rehabilitate all roads in Lilongwe City, this would translate into MK3billion. Our financial base for the whole country for the whole year is less than that. It is clear therefore that while we are rehabilitating some key roads in Malawi, other roads will require what is called routine maintenance.