VENTURES AFRICA – Renowned for its terrible roads and heavy traffic, Zambia’s capital Lusaka is to receive over 400 kilometres of new roads following a deal concluded by the Road Development Agency (RDA) and AVIC International of China. It is promised that the renovation will achieve a smooth flow of traffic through the city, but will also include expansion of existing roads and pavements, and the creation of adequate road drainage.
The overhaul is expected to cost in the region of 1.7 trillion Zambian Kwacha ($336 million). It is hoped that the works will be completed in four years, by 2015; with work due to start on the rehabilitation as soon as possible once details are finalised – foreseeably within a few months.
The project specifies that 400 kilometres of existing roads will be revamped, including 36 kilometres of existing road expansion, and 336 kilometres of pavements added to existing roads. The city will gain 10 road intersections, one inter-change bridge, 19 bus bays, new road drainage systems and 150 kilometres of road lighting, along with the appropriate traffic control and road safety markings and trappings.
Speaking after the deal signing ceremony in Lusaka on Monday, Lusaka Mayor Daniel Chisenga voiced his excitement over the coming overhaul: “I am glad that today we are embarking on a programme that will transform the road network in our city. This development is delighting because the rehabilitation of these roads will not only ease our movements but also enhance safety and reduce congestion on our major roads.”
In a sign of solidarity, Chisenga made a promise that Lusaka County Council would stand beside and assist the RDA in its work, telling the Agency and contractor AVIC: “you have a mammoth task to work on the urban roads in Lusaka which have been neglected for many years. We will accord you the necessary support”. Chisenga urged Lusaka residents to be patient during the on-going works, and to remain vigilant in order to prevent all possibilities of vandalism that might threaten the new infrastructure both while under construction and once complete.
Meanwhile, RDA executive director Bernard Chiwala assured Lusaka residents that the city’s roads and transport systems will not turn to chaos during the four years of the planned rehabilitation. Works will concentrate on 10 kilometres stretches of road at a time, with continuous hand-over of completed sections to the County Council.
In response to predictable concerns, AVIC International country director Gong Jiayan also spoke up at the signing ceremony, tackling the question of who will be sub-contracted to fulfil the project work on the ground. He assured all present that with 30 years’ experience of working in Zambia, AVIC remains committed to the country and local communities. As such, AVIC will sub-contract much of the labour to local contractors, thus involving the community in the project and boosting local income and the city’s economy.
In addition to implementing the overhaul plans, AVIC announced that on completion of the project, it would be providing a full set of road maintenance equipment to the RDA such that the new infrastructure will receive the necessary upkeep and attention in order for the investment to prove a long-term benefit to the city.
This deal comes in a series of recent road upgrade initiatives in Zambia. The Government has already concluded an agreement with the Japanese government to begin the building of a Lusaka ring-road network; with work due to begin in October.