Getting To Print

Written By: The Lowdown - Jan• 31•01

cover2001-01Each month as I finish putting the Lowdown together, I feel deflated and apprehensive, when I should be delighted that the job is almost complete and I can relax for a day or two before I have to start on the next issue. The reason for this is quite simply that I dread the drive down Kabelenga Road to the printers.

Heavy trucks turning into the premises of a clearing agent whose offices and warehouse were situated on this road caused the initial damage to Kabelenga Road. They have since moved to other premises, but the damage remains.

In November 1999, the Counselor for that area called a meeting of all the businesses on Kabelenga Road, and explained that the road was due for rehabilitation by JICA this year, but that if everyone paid their rates immediately, then these funds would be used to carry out interim repairs. He even offered a reduction in rates.

In an attempt to make the road passable, Lewis Construction arranged to fill in the holes with building rubble. United Panel Beaters donated drums which could be used as bins for the rubbish that was accumulating there, which to this day are still awaiting collection by the Council, despite numerous phone calls to remind them. To assist even further, Di Golson, of Lewis Construction, accompanied the Council officials whilst they were collecting the payments due to them. That is where the Council’s efforts stopped.

Telephone calls have been made to the Counselor concerned, messages left for him with his staff, but all to no avail. It is as if the initial meeting was never held or perhaps it is as Charles De Gaulle once said ‘As a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him’.

However, something is being done. A contract, funded by the National Roads Board, has been issued for the drainage to be sorted out, but the work has been delayed because of the rapid depreciation of the Kwacha and an adjustment must now be made to the contract sum. But, the road has not been included in the roads to be rehabilitated by JICA, because it did not meet their criteria, which is based on social and economic factors and on the volume of traffic. Whether traffic volumes should be used for assessing which roads to repair remains unanswered – if a road is in bad condition, people don’t use it, but fix it, and you wonder where all the traffic came from.

Although Kabelenga Road will not be repaired, 60.7 kilometres of Lusaka’s roads will be repaired under JICA Grant Aid. At this stage, it is anybody’s guess whether Kabelenga Road will ever be repaired. What is certain is that those businesses along that road may not be able to pay their rates in the future because their clients won’t be able to reach their premises and they will all slowly but surely cease trading.


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