By MARTIN MUSUNKA -
BUILDCON Investments, a wholly-owned Zambian construction company, has embarked on an array of road construction and rehabilitation projects.
The company, which has diversified its business portfolio from mining projects to highway construction activities, has declared its involvement in road construction and rehabilitation ventures as a contribution to Zambia’s road infrastructure improvement.
The Zambian Government has facilitated a new approach which encompasses routine maintenance activities and integrated contracts for the rehabilitation and routine maintenance of road networks across the country.
Recently, the Road Development Agency (RDA) awarded the contract to rehabilitate the Solwezi-Chingola highway in North-Western and Copperbelt provinces to Buildcon Investments and China Geo Engineering Corporation Southern Africa. The road rehabilitation has been segmented into three lots in order for the works to be expedited.
RDA, which manages important road projects launched by the Government — Link Zambia 8000 and Pave Zambia — is an organ tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that road construction, from the level of contracting and bidding for civil works, to effective evaluation and supervision of contractors and their bids, are adequately implemented.
The Agency takes care of all aspects regarding road overhaul and rehabilitation at tender stage to avoid dismal and murky bidders who are bound to garble the bidding process by excessive underbidding for contracts, with the potential for failure to complete projects.
“As Buildcon, we realise that the rehabilitation of the Solwezi-Chingola Road is an important project which can never be delayed. The people of North-Western Province cannot wait for this road any longer,” said Moses Mubanga, the chief executive officer for Buildcon Investments, during the signing ceremony at the RDA head office in Lusaka recently.
Buildcon Investments was awarded the contract for the full rehabilitation of Lot 2 of the road covering 40 kilometres at a cost of K305,014,166.77, out of a total distance of 168 kilometres. The remaining stretch has been allotted to China Geo Engineering Corporation Southern Africa, which will take care of Lot 1 which covers 60 kilometres and the 68-kilomtere stretch of Lot 3.
The contract for China Geo Engineering Corporation Southern Africa is worth K1,067,592,425.09 with the breakdown of K481,085,786.95 for Lot 1, covering 60 kilometres; and K586,506,638.14 for Lot 3 for the distance of 68 kilometres.
The stretch awarded to Buildcon is expected to be completed within 18 months from June 2015 while the two Lots with China Geo are scheduled to be finished within 24 months, also from June 2015.
RDA Director and Chief Executive Officer Kanyuka Mumba said the scope of works for the entire project, includes ripping of the existing pavement, improvement of sub-surface drainage in sections with high water table, construction of 6.8 metres carriage way with 50 millimetre asphalt concrete and construction of two metres single seal shoulders, complete with road markings and signage.
Mr Mumba regretted that the Solwezi-Chingola Road had been in a poor state for a long time and it was thus Government’s objective, through the RDA, to improve it in order to enhance the transport system that would support various activities between the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces.
“As we know, North-Western Province is home to large mining houses such as Kansanshi Mines and Lumwana Mines. Once completed, the safety for motorists and other road users will be enhanced and travel time to and from Solwezi reduced,” Mr Mumba said during the signing ceremony for the Buildcon contract.
At the same ceremony, Mr Mubanga dismissed the general notion that Zambian contractors were not equal to the task in delivering quality projects of such magnitude.
He said contrary to the perception that Zambians lacked competence in putting up good projects, his company would perform to high standards and complete the portion of the assignment on time.
“There is this notion that Zambians cannot deliver. As Buildcon, we shall get down to serious work and ensure that we deliver to expectations. I would like to assure the country that we have the expertise to deliver excellent results. I must say that we are delighted to be given this job,” Mr Mubanga said.
And later, in a separate interview, Mr Mubanga was however quick to recognise the contribution of First Quantum Minerals (FQM) through Kansanshi Mining Plcin empowering most local contractors through jobs which have ultimately built their capacity and improved their proficiency.
He said Buildcon Investments was now able to compete for major jobs with international organizations because of acquired competencies attributed to Kansanshi Mining Plc, which has been offering contracts to the company.
“We are what we are because of the goodwill that we have enjoyed over time from Kansanshi Mine, who have empowered us by giving us jobs that have helped us improve our business abilities in our areas of specialization,” he added.
And President Edgar Lungu launched the commencement of rehabilitation works for the Solwezi-Chingola road, which he described as a long-standing project.
During the launch ceremony at Saint Dorothy in Senior Chief Kalilele’s chiefdom, Mr Lungu said he was particularly pleased that his Government had delivered on the promise made to the people of North-Western Province for the improvement of the road.
“Despite this road being an important economic link, most of us are aware that it has remained in a poor state for a long time. I am glad that all the encumbrances that surrounded the full realization of this project have been dealt with,” he said.
He said the road had been in a poor state for a long time much to the discomfort and disadvantage of local people, business houses and the travellers. It was therefore Government’s expectation and desire that the construction of the road would be undertaken within the project duration.
The President said Government expected the quality of works to be of international standard because the road provided a vital link to mining houses and other economic activities in the province. “Government is spending a colossal sum of money on this road and we must ensure that the new road stands the test of time. We will not accept premature failure or substandard works on this project.”
Mr Lungu urged the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications and the Road Development Agency to ensure that the contractors delivered a quality road through effective supervision.
He said Zambian contractors should be sub-contracted, in line with Government policy of building capacity for local contractors and implored the Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications and RDA to ensure that the 20 percent sub-contracting policy is implemented.
“To the people of North Western and Copperbelt provinces in whose provinces this project is being implemented, I wish to urge you to support the contractors as they carry out their work. Indeed there will be inconveniences during the period of construction but the travelling public is encouraged to adhere to regulations and speed limits that will be provided on this construction site,” Mr Lungu said.
He said the improvement of the Chingola-Solwezi road offered immense benefits not only to the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces but the country as a whole as the rehabilitation would provide an efficient transportation system to support copper mining and other economic activities such as agriculture and tourism. -Feature courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS