Speaking during the flagging off of the project, President Banda said the tarring of the 104 km road by Sable Transport and Construction Company will not only benefit the tourism sector in Malambo but also the residents of Chipata and Mambwe districts through easy transportation of people, goods and services.
The President, however, said the upgraded road will greatly enhance the tourism potential in Mfuwe and agricultural activities along the road corridor and contribute towards .
Mr Banda said the launch of the works on the road indicates the MMD government’s commitment to deliver its promise of providing good roads to its people in line with the second Road Sector Investment Program that is running for ten years from 2003 to 2013.
President Banda stressed that road works were not only being done on the Chipata/Mfuwe road but in other districts in the country.
He said his government believed in good road network as an engine for economic growth as it facilitates efficient movement of goods and services cheaply, which he said reduced travel time, accidents and contributed to lower cost of conducting business.
The President further stressed that government will endeavor to ensure that all parts of the country are accessible through road construction, rehabilitation of deteriorated roads, periodic and routine maintenance of core road network.
He revealed that the Road Sector Investment Programme is supported by government and cooperating partners and involves the investment of US $ 1.6 over a period of ten years to cover 40,000km of road network throughout the country, although the Mfuwe road is solely funded by the Zambian government.
President Banda clarified that Sable Transport and Construction was not picked for any other reason other than experience and good reputation in the construction industry.
“Sable has done a number of projects in the country in a professional manner and has continued to improve the road infrastructure throughout the country,’ he said.
He added that once tarred, the road will also secure and improve all weather access and reduce user costs and enhance economic activities.
“It will enhance economic activities in the area in terms of agriculture, tourism and other activities for individual communities including trading, health care delivery and good education delivery,” he said.
“Other than the South Luangwa National park, there are three other projects namely, Luambe, Lukusizi and North Luangwa National Park which also attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world,” he said.
The President stressed government’s determination to diversify the economy from copper dependence to tourism and agriculture.
He emphasized the importance of institutional reforms and implored those tasked with the responsibility of managing roads and the associated finances to use public resources prudently.
“With prudent resource utilization of allocated funds for roads, we are able to improve our network of 40,000 kilometers by the year 2013, thereby creating about 30, 000 jobs through the country,” he said.
President Banda observed that the Chipata/Mfuwe road construction works would benefit the local people through gainful employment and training in various skills related to the construction of the road.
He also noted the HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns would be conducted in the project area and that information on the danger of vandalizing road infrastructure would be disseminated to the public during the course of the project.
“This will reduce the infection rate of HIV and AIDS, and reduce vandalism of road signs which are a major target of vandalism by local people,” he said.
The President urged the relevant government institutions to ensure that the project is completed within schedule by providing resources as required.
“Works may stall if government does not play its role of releasing funds as required,” he said.
And President Banda has urged the and Supply, through the Road Development Agency (RDA), to prioritize the enhancement of safety in their road designs on all roads to save lives.
The President implored the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and RDA to ensure that over-speeding and overloading were curbed on all the roads in the country.
“They are not only against the Law but are also selfish and a danger to the safety of our people; they are a cost to government and the people of Zambia,” he stated.
President Banda urged the contractor and the project management team to complete works within reasonable time and ensure compliance to technical specifications set forth for the construction of the Chipata/Mfuwe road.
Mr Banda commended Sable Transport and Construction, saying it had shown commitment in its contracts with government noting that sometimes the company started carrying out works before advance payment.
The works on the Chipata/Mfuwe road started on December 18, 2009 and expected to end .
Earlier, Works and Supply Minister, Mike Mulongoti, observed that poor road conditions on the Chipata/Mfuwe road forced tourists to fly to Mfuwe and miss out on a number of other attractive tourist areas along the way to Eastern Province’s tourist destination.
Mr Mulongoti said it was for this reason that government was improving the road infrastructure in the region to improve economic sectors not only in tourism but agriculture, mining and commerce which could only develop with the support of good road network.
He noted that government had embarked on a number of road construction and rehabilitation in Eastern Province, adding that some of the road works in the province had been completed.
Mr Mulongoti named the Chipata/Lundazi, Nyimba/Sinda and Petauke/ Chilongozi as some of the roads that were recently rehabilitated.
He revealed that government was rehabilitating 83 priority bridges located in all the eight districts in the region.
“We are working on agriculture roads through the Agriculture Development Support Program totaling to 389.17 kilometers in Chipata and Katete, and 308 Kilometers in Lundazi while periodic maintenance is being carried out on Luamfwa/ Mutipwazi road.” Mr Mulongoti said.
The minister disclosed that government was planning for the maintenance of the Chipata/Lundazi road and the rehabilitation of Lusaka/Chipata road.
He noted that other road sections had been maintained using government equipment by the Rural Roads Unit (RRU).
“All these are testimony of government’s commitment to improve the road infrastructure in the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Minister said people in the province were excited about the tarring of the Chipata/Mfuwe road because of the socio-economic value that the road had.
Mr Banda said the tourism potential of the South Luangwa National Park was dependent on the state of the road as most tourists travelled to Mfuwe by road.
He said it was, therefore, envisaged that once completed, the number of both local and foreign tourists would increase and subsequently enhance the local economy.
Mr Banda said there was need to encourage the local community to engage in tourism-orientated businesses such as curio making and selling to reduce poverty.
The minister noted that this could only be realized if locals accessed funds through the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).
And RDA Board Chairman, Walusiku Lisulo, pledged commitment to ensure that works on Chipata/Mfuwe road were carried out professionally according to specifications.
Mr Lisulo said the upgrading of the Chipata/Mfuwe road would add up to the realization of the Road Sector Investment Programme which was initiated in 2003 and commended government for funding the agency promptly.
He, however, bemoaned poor funding which he said led to the stalling of some road projects in the country.
He said there was need for adequate funding to the road sector to ensure an efficient and dynamic road network which he said was vital to economic growth, productivity and socio development.
Banda launches K290 billion upgrading of Chipata/Mfuwe road