News

Luangwa-Feira road disaster

NANCY SIAME, Luangwa & PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
ABOUT 300 meters of the Luangwa-Feira road has been damaged as a result of natural earth movements, prompting authorities to close it for the safety of users.
This has left scores of road travellers to and from Luangwa and Feira stranded.
The damage, attributed to heavy rains, covers about 4kms from Great East Road at Luangwa Bridge area.
Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development permanent secretary Charles Mushota, who visited the scene in the company of Road Development Agency (RDA) chief executive officer Elias Mwape and other officials, described the damage as a disaster.
Mr Mushota, an engineer, said any pressure on the road might lead to it collapsing.
He said the road, which has risen about 1.5 metres high on the damaged section, will remain closed to prevent loss of life and property.
“Apart from this damage caused to the road, there is a big crater on top of the mountain which has separated and is exerting pressure on the road,” Mr Mushota said.
He said the Ministry of Mines, through the Geology Department, has been engaged to conduct a thorough assessment to ascertain the real cause of the damage.
Mr Mushota said a team of engineers from RDA had been sent to conduct a survey so that an alternative route could be worked on by China Geo Construction, the company which constructed the road in 2014.
He urged motorists and travellers to remain calm as an alternative route is being worked on.
“Life is more precious and we do not want to risk any lives,” Mr Mushota said.
Meanwhile, several travellers were found stranded on the road as they could not proceed to their final destinations.
Gilbert Sandama, who was transporting fuel from Lusaka, said he did not know what to do as his employers were expecting him back in Lusaka.
“I passed on this road around 05:00 hours but now I cannot go back because the road is closed,” he said.
Luangwa district commissioner Ngoni Moyo appealed to the RDA to quickly work on the road as most local people depended on it for their activities.
Meanwhile, a team of geologists and seismologists has been sent to Luangwa to check on the extent of the damage, Ministry of Mines permanent secretary Paul Chanda has said.
Mr Chanda said in an interview the ministry would today give the outcome of the assessment.

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