Accelerated road works to spur growth
Published On December 27, 2013 » 5124 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Features
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•TRANSPORT, Communication and Works Minister  Yamfwa Mukanga (right) being assisted by Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao to cut the ribbon as a signal to start road works in Lusaka.

By MIRIAM ZIMBA-

WITH an estimated population of about 13 million people, most of whom live along the line of rail, Zambia has a surface area of 753,000 square kilometres and a core road network of 40,445 kilometres.

It is a well established fact that the road network plays a critical role countrywide as well as in the region as a whole.
And as the year 2013 comes to a close, some of the major infrastructure investments made by the Zambian Government include the construction and upgrading of roads.

As a matter of fact, the development of roads has been placed as a major priority against the realisation that road development plays a pivotal role in the development of any nation.
Besides the construction and rehabilitation of roads, the Zambian government has placed great emphasis on maintenance of roads as a way of preserving the existing road infrastructure.

In September 2012, President Michael Sata launched the biggest road construction project dubbed the Link Zambia 8000.

This project’s is estimated to cost about K31.42 billion, giving an average yearly cost of K6.28 billion.

This project, also known as the Accelerated National Roads Construction Programme is a project initiated to accelerate road construction in the country through the Road Development Agency (RDA).

The Link Zambia 8000 project seeks to transform Zambia into a truly land-linked country in the Southern African sub-region. This is because Zambia is a land-linked country surrounded by eight countries namely Angola, Congo DR, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. Link Zambia 8000 is a country-wide road construction, expansion and rehabilitation project of about 8000 kilometres of roads in all of the country’s ten provinces.

Some of the notable roads being worked on under this project include the Chiawa-Chirundu, Kitwe-Chingola Dual Carriage Way, Chama-Matumbo, Chadiza-Vubwi-Chipata and the Luangwa Bridge-Feira roads. Others include the Chongwe-Chalimbana, Kasisi-Ngwelele, Kaoma-Lukulu, Sesheke-Senanga and Itezhi-Tezhi-Mumbwa roads, just to mention but a few.

Under this project, the scope of works will involve works on at least three roads in each province as submitted by the provincial administrations in all ten provinces.
During the implementation of construction works, the project is envisaged to create approximately 24,000 jobs for the youth in Zambia.
It is also poised to create economic growth opportunities, as well as wealth creation in the outlying areas of the country.
The works will involve the upgrading to bituminous standards with double surfacing or asphalt concrete surface, with a an expected total of 8,201 kilometers of road works to be implemented over a period of between five to eight years.

Another major road project launched is the Pave Zambia 2000, which involves the use of concrete block paving and cobblestone technology to rehabilitate urban and township roads in the country.

One of the most important points to remember is that construction of roads under this project ranges between K760,000 to K1.5 million per kilometre.

This entails that in comparison with the construction of tarred roads of bituminous standard, whose costs range between K3 million to K5 million per kilometre, which works out to be more cost effective.

After estimation of the costs associated with this project which amounts to about K1.6 billion, 15 locations in selected parts of the country’s 10 provinces have been selected to benefit from this project.

An estimated 20,000 jobs are expected to be created during the project period.

The initial project period for the Pave Zambia 2000 is five years, with the maintenance period to commence six years after the start of the project.

The concept of the use of block pavements for road construction is not a new phenomenon, evidence of such pavements using bricks laid in bitumen and mortar can be traced back to the Biblical era of Babylon and surrounding areas, dating as far back as 3000 BC (3000 years before Christ).

For the Capital City of Lusaka, there is a special project known as the Lusaka 400, which involves the rehabilitation works on selected Lusaka roads, dubbed L 400.

This project, which involves the rehabilitation and up-grading of approximately 400 kilometers of selected roads in Lusaka, will result in the up-grading (tarring) of some roads while other existing roads will be rehabilitated and widened.

The scope of work for this project includes the widening of selected roads with high traffic volume, the improvement of selected roads that lead to and within industrial and commercial areas, as well as the re-engineering of selected road junctions, to improve the flow of traffic.

Other components of this project include the construction of sidewalks along selected roads, the provision of an inter-change solutions on selected sections, the improvement of the drainage system for the roads, and improving city public infrastructure such as street lighting.

However, this project is not only limited to the above mentioned works, but will also involve the widening of 36 kilometres of roads with about 366 kilometres road pavement on existing embankment roads.

This project will also ensure the construction of 90km of sidewalks, the maintenance and construction of road drainage systems, the re-arrangement of 10 road intersections to improve traffic control, and the construction of 19 bus bays as well as other relevant traffic safely facilities, with one inter-change bridge concept.

Through its theme of Delivering Development to Zambia through a World class Road network, In March 2011 the Tolls Act No 14 of 2011 was enacted providing for the establishment and operation of Toll roads in Zambia.

The Road Tolling Implementation Plan is in two phases, with phase one, which is solely the RDA, and runs from 2013 to 2015.

During this phase, the RDA is expected to implement programme on selected roads, construct toll gates and to begin to implement key activities.

While phase two, which includes the private sector, will ensure that government out-sources selected parts of the road network to the private sector under which is commonly referred to as the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), and this phase is expected to be in place after 2015.

The National Road tolling Project also entails that the RDA will be responsible for the regulation and maintenance of all toll roads, the collection of toll fees, and The Tolls Act also makes provision for the operation of Toll roads on a concession basis.

The Investment in Road Infrastructure is financed from government grants, fuel levy, road-user charges, as well as donor grants loans.

But like other public infrastructure projects, there are still some notable gaps in the financing of road works which include Alternative Road Financing Arrangements Tolling of Roads.

This can be by government through the RDA or involvement of the private sector through PPPs on selected Roads

Tonnage Charge for types of cargo, for example every tonne of copper being transported on Zambian roads can be in form of resources and recovering investment from Tolls, while private investors are to be responsible for the operations of Toll roads and maintenance, as the RDA retains its responsibility to monitor the construction and maintenance of the Toll roads.

The selected tolling sites include the Katuba, the ZNS Kabwel, Kapri Mposhi, Kafulafuta, Mwanawasa stadium, Kamfinsa, Ganertone, Chingola and the Solwezi Turn-off tolls.

While other sites include Konkola, Shimabala, Turnpike, Chirundu, Nega-nega Turn-off, Kapinga, Choma, Livingstone Weighbridge, Kazungula, Sesheke, Chongwe, Luangwa, Chipata, the Old Kapiri Old Weigh Bridge, Mpika and Mwenze tolls.

Some of the benefits of road tolling to the country include additional finance for maintenance of roads, a better road network, employment opportunities to the citizens both directly and indirectly and the broadening of road contractors opportunities for maintenance.

The government can also have some flexibility of channelling financial resources to other social sectors when the road sector is able to partially or wholly generate the resources it needs, as well as foreign trucks and vehicles that currently use Zambian roads virtually for free, will become a thing of the past because they will be contributing their share of the maintenance costs.

And ultimately, better roads reduce travelling time and road accident incidents.

Given the foregoing, government decided on Road Tolling as the most effective avenue for raising additional finance for road maintenance and rehabilitation.

This legal Framework is such that the government through the Tolls Act. 14 of 2011 appointed the RDA as the Tolls Authority, with a core function under this legislation to; erect and maintain such structures necessary for operating Toll points, at any road, border post, bridge, pontoon or any other place designated as such.

The RDA is also envisaged to operate the Toll points, appoint toll collectors, and enter into concessions on selected roads with the private sector, through PPP models.

And the objectives of Road Tolling are to keep the core road network in maintainable condition at all times through self financing and self-sustaining mechanisms, and to broaden the financing options for road infrastructure development, renewal and maintenance as well as to encourage PPP arrangements in road infrastructure financing and development to empower Zambians by developing small entrepreneurs.

Evidently, these and many other infrastructure development projects to improve the country’s road sector, will spur the much desired socio-economic development, through improved service delivery, increased employment for youths as well as making Zambia a more attractive investment hub.

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