Times of Zambia (2011)
President Rupiah Banda yesterday flagged off the outstanding construction works on the K1.25 trillion Mongu-Tapo-Kalabo Road and underscored Government’s commitment to reducing poverty in the country through infrastructure development.
Speaking in Kalabo yesterday, President Banda said his aim was to work hard to ensure that poverty was reduced in all parts of the country as soon as possible.
“My aim is to reduce poverty in the rest of the country and I will do so in every part of the country without discrimination.Western and the entire country,” he said.
President Banda told the crowd of people that attended the groundbreaking ceremony at Tapo, 34 kilometres from Mongu, that the financing of the road would be done through a concessional loan from China.
“Government is determined to ensure that the project is completed in good time. Above all, the Government will ensure the road is of high quality to stand the test of time,” he said.
He said the Mongu-Kalabo Road project was of great importance to the country as it would connect Zambia to Angola, thereby facilitating easier movement of goods to that country.
“You will recall that in 1966 the Government of the Zambia decided to construct a road that would connect the country to the neighbouring countries of Congo DR and Angola.
“It was only in 2002 that a contract between Government and Consolidated Contractors Company of Kuwait was signed to construct the 74 kilometre bituminous road between Mongu and Kalabo at a contact sum of US$39.7 million,
“Unfortunately during the 2003/2004 rainy season, high floods were experienced which caused some sections of the embankment and a number of culverts on the 34 kilometre stretch of the flood plains to be washed away,” he said.
The president said he was however, happy to be in Kalabo yesterday to witness the resumption of the construction works on the road which would cost K1.25 trillion.
“On average the cost of building a tarred road in the rest of the country is K5 billion per kilometre, here because of the complicated terrain it will cost K60 billion per kilometre,” he said.
Mr Banda thanked the Chinese government for accepting to finance the road project to be undertaken by Chinese company, AVIC International.
He said Government is determined to ensure the Mongu – Kalabo Road is completed within the stipulated timeframe.
Mr Banda said donor countries supported the country because the Zambian people were peaceful and deserved the help.
He said he was aware there were some grievances but that these should be resolved amicably.
Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said the groundbreaking ceremony was a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to develop infrastructure.
He said once completed the road would open up the country to Angola and the rest of the world.
“We have seen roads being constructed, schools, hospitals and clinics. The country will remember you (President Banda) as a leader that provided infrastructure,” he said.
Works and Supply Minister Mike Mulongoti said he was happy that President Banda was fulfilling his campaign promises to the people of Western Province by working on the Mongu-Tapo Road.
Road Development Agency (RDA) board chairperson Luambe Mondoloka said the agency had so far secured 40 bailey bridges for incorporation in the Mongu- Kalabo Road.
He said because of the scarcity of resources from the treasury, a loan had to be obtained from Exim Bank of China to finance the road construction.
Western Province Minister Sikwebele Mwapela said the people in the province were happy with the many projects the Government was undertaking.
“It is the desire of the people of the province to give you another five years so that you can move the country forward,” Mr Mwapela said.
[ Times of Zambia ]