Chiefs lament over careless cutting down of trees around Kandewe suspension bridge
Community leaders around Kandewe suspension bridge in se chief Mwankhunikira’s area in Rumphi district have probed the community to take part in caring for the natural and cultural resources as a way of promoting tourism.
Village headman Kaithaze Kandewe made the call following community members' act of carelessly cutting down trees and bamboos around the suspension bridge for agricultural activities such as tobacco farming that demand bamboos for constructing barns where they use to dry tobacco.
Kandewe said culturally, the bridge is important to the Phoka tribe as it is believed to have provided accessibility to ancestral shrine of their forefathers.
“There is nothing beautiful than being rich in cultural heritage, the bridge and our museum reminds us of our origin, at the same time it is a good source of forex exchange, so it is very important that we take good care of all these resources," explained Kandewe.
He further said apart from tourism, the bridge is also a tradition form of transportation of farm produce for about 1000 people from Chigona bweka and surrounding areas.
Kandewe said “We also use this bridge to transport our agricultural produce to Phwezi or Mzuzu, even our children use the same bridge when going to school. Now our fear is that if the depleting and dwindling of trees and the bamboos will affect the maintenance of our bridge.”
Chairperson for Kandewe tourism project Kipson Silvester Nyasulu says they have planted 2000 trees as of this year and also making sure that nature is protected at all cost.
“This year we have planted 2000 trees along the river, and also we will put around this areas beehive so that we also control charcoal burning in the nearest forest”. He said
In a separate interview, Northern region tourism officer Japhet Kuweluza told Nthanda Times that it is unfortunate that the community are on forefront lessening their own culture.
“That place looks beautiful with the trees and bamboos. It is very improper to carelessly cut all these down, and also as it will affect tourism sector if the trees and the bamboos for bridge maintenance will be scares," he said.
Kandewe flyover Bamboo Bridge located along the Mzuzu-Karonga road was first built in 1904 by Mr Goodwin Mkandawire. Of late a small museum and shrine in memory and appreciation of Phoka culture has been constructed near the bridge.