Barely There Yet

Written By: The Lowdown - Jan• 31•13

Link Zambia 8000, Pave Zambia 2000; the two latest programmes to improve and increase mobility in and around Zambia. And correctly so. Roads are the lifeline of our country and the catalyst for development.

But let me tell you a story of a specific road.

In 2008, within a few days of the nation receiving the news of the illness of our Late President Levy Mwanawasa, road contractors together with all of their heavy equipment and staff appeared on a gravel road which links Leopards Hill Road with the Palabana and Chalimbana areas in Chongwe district. In fact the very road leading to the farm of President Mwanawasa.

At this time, this road was in an appalling state. Certain areas could only be traversed in first gear (unless of course you were driving a company car which any business owner knows can do 100 kph in reverse), so maintenance work was way overdue and it was welcomed by regular road users.

The roadworks moved ahead at an enormous pace, faster than we have ever seen road contractors work, although there were concerns about the quality of the work being done. This was mainly because of the gravel that was used in some areas – enormous stones. No! Enormous rocks were compacted into the gravel; enormous rocks which road users knew would be exposed as soon as the gravel started washing off, as it does. It goes without saying that this is exactly what did happen. This road, within one year, was back to being traversed in first gear only for long stretches.

But what is worse is that since 2008 until now this road has seen NO maintenance by the Road Development Agency. No grader has been sent to grade the road. No grader has been sent to open drains prior to the rains. No people have been sent to slash the grass on the corners. The only maintenance has been when the residents of the area have clubbed together to have a grader grade the road. Or when they have organised a work group to remove the worst of the rocks and stones. Or when they have had their garden staff opening drains and ensuring that there is somewhere for the water to drain off the road.

What a terrible waste of Zambia’s investment in road infrastructure! Whatever money was spent back in 2008 to have the road rehabilitated will now have to be spent again, all for the want of a bit of annual maintenance.

Let us hope that the roads being built, rehabilitated or upgraded under Link Zambia 8000 and Pave Zambia 2000 will be placed on proper regular and periodic maintenance regimes so that Zambia’s capital investment in these roads is not lost … again.

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