The conditions of our roads in Zambia is of serious concern and has the potential to have a negative effect on our economy.
During the Patriotic Front (PF) administration, a night ban on movement of heavy goods trucks was instituted due to rampant accidents.
However, the movement of the trucks was not the only cause of road crashes.
In other countries like South Africa and Botswana, trucks move 24 hours – except on weekends.
And yet accidents during the night are rare.
The cause of accidents in Zambia is mainly due to the poor condition of our roads, not the night.
Moreover, limiting movement of trucks is also limiting progress of the economy.
Mines and other productive sectors of the economy need to work 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
This means trucks must be there to ferry products.
If you institute a night ban on the movement of heavy goods vehicles, it means at some point, production must halt.
This is the reason why in developed countries, authorities would not allow movement of heavy goods vehicles to halt at any particular time; even during serious pandemics such as COVID-19.
Instead, they would rather devise a mechanism of ensuring that there is constant movement of goods.
Therefore, they invest heavily in the road infrastructure.
But if accidents continue, they would blame it on fatigue and as a result, introduce logbooks or shifts for drivers.
For example, whilst doing local deliveries in South Africa, we used to have day and night shifts which started at 06:00 hours in the morning or 18:00 hours in the evening.
However, in Zambia, even that can never reduce accidents because the roads are very dangerous regardless of what time of the day you are driving.
This calls for the emergency rehabilitation of our roads and that requires a lot of money.
But the current debt crisis in which the PF left the country does not permit us to rebuild the roads.
So, what do we do?
We need to do something about it.
This is where Public Private Partnership (PPP) comes in.
There are individuals and institutions that are wiling to help us out as long as there is a stable political atmosphere and zero tolerance on corruption.
With transparency, there are partners who can bring in the required resources for the roads, a number of which can have tollgates installed.
We can end up having European standard roads in Zambia which can allow our economy to move 24/7.
It is for this reason that I am particularly calling on the United Party for National Development (UPND) Government in Zambia to be vigilant when selecting private partners in the construction of our roads.
Where there is transparency, PPP is an alternative way of mitigating poor infrastructure, especially roads, owing to lack of funds.
Private partners would be interested to invest in Zambia because being a land-linked country, it handles a lot of traffic, such as cargo, that has to pass through to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other African countries.
Besides, the political atmosphere is now very conducive especially to foreign owned companies.
Andrew K Kabaghe
SADC Truck Drivers Association of Zambia