GOVERNMENT has earmarked road rehabilitation and construction among top of its infrastructure development agenda aimed at bringing sustainable economic and social development to the nation.
Government, through the Road Development Agency (RDA), has since initiated several road projects spread out across the country under the link Zambia-8000 and the Pave Zambia.
Copperbelt was given a good share of these road projects, which when successfully completed, will improve not only the road network but also the outlook of the province.
A two-day inspection tour of road projects on the Copperbelt by the RDA last week revealed that Government was on course towards improving the road network in the country and in particular Copperbelt province.
This was evidenced by the awarding of contracts for works on major roads which include the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway, Kitwe-Chingola and Chingola-Solwezi.
The RDA delegation, led by public relations manager Loyce Saili, also inspected the works on the Sabina-Kalulushi, Kalulushi-Lufwanyama and the Chingola urban roads.
Ms Saili, who was accompanied by RDA Copperbelt senior engineer George Chitonena and Copperbelt engineer contracts Warren Chimfwembe, kicked off the tour of duty with the project for periodic road maintenance on the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway at a cost of K290.2 million.
The project, whose works involved edge repair, pothole patching, reconstruction of some road sections and resurfacing of the road, was found to have had gained momentum with the contractor making steady progress much to the satisfaction of RDA.
The periodic road maintenance was aimed at giving a face-lift to the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway, which was built a long time ago but had not been maintained.
Ms Saili, who inspected the 64-kilometre stretch extending from the junction of President Avenue and Broadway in Ndola up to Mukuba Pension House in Kitwe, expressed happiness with progress made so far.
She said she was happy with the contractor China Jiangxi for the progress made on the periodic road maintenance for Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway which was found at more than 20 per cent.
“This is an 18-month project, which started in November, 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in May next year,” she said.
Ms Saili said the RDA undertook to conduct the periodic road maintenance on the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway because it is a strategic road with a significant bearing on the economy of the country.
“You know this road was built a long time ago and has not received any maintenance and because of the heavy haulage passing through, the road has been stressed and before it completely gives in, we thought it necessary to work on it,” Ms Saili said.
She said a stretch of 22 kilometres out of the total 64 was ear-marked for complete reconstruction in addition to repairing the edges which had been damaged and caused the road to become narrow.
China Jiangxi assistant manager Cui Liubing expressed confidence of finishing the works on time despite the challenge of relocating the power line.
Later, Ms Saili, who was accompanied by RDA Copperbelt senior engineer George Chitonena, conducted an inspection on the road construction projects for the 13.7 kilometre Sabina-Mufulira and the 63-kilometre Kalulushi-Lufwanyama roads.
Ms Saili similarly expressed happiness with the progress being scored and that the quality of work done by China Geo Engineering Southern African Ltd who was working on the Mufulira-Sabina Road at at a cost of K80.6 million as well as Inyatsi Construction Zambia Ltd on the Kalulushi-Lufwanyama Road at a cost of K123.1 million was resounding.
She described the Mufulira-Sabina and Kalulushi-Lufwanyama stretch as strategic roads with the former providing a short-cut link to and from Kalulushi district for all motorists going and coming from Mufulira and Chingola districts respectively.
“We are happy also as RDA because Lufwanyama was the only district on the Copperbelt without a tarred road and now the road has been tarred,” she said.
Ms Saili said the importance of the Kalulushi-Lufwanyama Road could not be over-emphasised as it was a well-known fact that Lufwanyama apart from being an agricultural district was also richly endowed with minerals such as emeralds.
The Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway, Sabina-Kalulushi and Kalulushi-Lufwanyama was but just a fraction of Government’s road projects on the Copperbelt.
With contracts for works on the Kitwe-Chingola and Chingola-Solwezi roads found to have already been awarded at a cost of K632.5 million, there should be no room for doubts about Government’s desire to improving the road network on the Copperbelt which has been contributing significantly to the economy.
Ms Saili said Government would spend K561.8 million to upgrade the Kitwe-Chingola Road into a dual carriageway and that RDA had already commissioned works on the 45.5-kilometre stretch.
“Over the years, the volume of traffic passing through the Kitwe-Chingola Road has increased and, therefore, there is urgent need to upgrade the road into a dual carriageway to ease the movement of traffic,” she said.
Ms Saili named Sino-Hydro as the contractor for the Kitwe-Chingola Road project, whose duration was 24 months starting last April.
She said the agency plans to place toll gates in strategic points of the road aimed at regulating haulage on the highway to prevent it from getting damaged quickly.
On the 169-kilometre Chingola-Solwezi Road, Ms Saili said RDA awarded Roads and Paving Construction Company to do periodic maintenance at a cost of K70.7 million.
She, however, said the cost of the project was likely to increase as the scope of work, which involved edge repair, pothole patching and reconstruction of some road sections covering a stretch of 60-kilometres, was being revised.
“The contractor is already on site doing the works. The state of the Chingola-Solwezi Road has been a source of concern as you know this is a busy road conveying heavy volume of traffic, especially trucks going to and from the mines,” she said.