YESTERDAY, all roads led to the north as President Lungu launched the construction of the 321-kilometre Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway.
The construction of the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway – one of the biggest road projects in Zambia’s history-is a key panacea for the country’s socio-economic challenges.
The dual carriageway, which will be built at a cost of US$1.2 billion, will also come with the construction of a transit hotel, service station between Lusaka and Kabwe, and a mini city to be established between Kapiri Mposhi and Ndola.
It is a bare fact that the Great North Road is the main artery to the heart of the country with significant economic and social value.
We know that this is the road which connects southern and central parts of Zambia to mining towns on the Copperbelt and northern parts of the country.
The Great North Road is also an important route for vehicles transiting to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo and other SADC and COMESA countries.
With population growth and the booming economic activities in various sectors, especially in mining, the road has proved inadequate in its current singular state.
The road has over the years become extremely busy handling a huge volume of traffic.
Due to congestion on the road, motorists have been spending longer hours than expected on the road. This is not good for business. As it is said: ‘time is money’.
The Great North Road is also one of the major roads with an alarming number of traffic accidents.
Some analysts have attributed the high number of fatalities on this road to it being one-lane each way. In most fatalities recorded on the road, drivers try to overtake ending up in head-on collisions.
We are particularly happy that the construction of the Lusaka- Ndola dual-carriage will help reduce congestion and loss of lives through traffic accidents.
The dual-carriage way will no doubt help boost businesses, especially transporters, through efficient transportation.
The PF government, therefore, deserves commendation for taking such a huge step to embark on the construction of one of Zambia’s most important roads.
The construction of the Great North Road is indeed proof that the PF government is committed to ensuring that it delivers on its promises within its mandate.
The project will create over 3,000 jobs, another fulfilment of the pledge to create employment.
It is, therefore, our hope that the contractor engaged will heed President Lungu’s directive to give priority to residents within the area where the road construction is being undertaken.
This is because such projects should benefit the local people if poverty is to be alleviated.
As the head of State pointed out, the Road Development Agency should be proactive and ensure that Zambian firms comprising small and medium-scale contractors are engaged on this project as sub – contractors in line with the 20 percent sub-contracting policy.
There is no excuse for not allowing Zambian firms to benefit from this policy. Moreover, this is the only way to increase the capacity of local entrepreneurs and subsequently grow the economy.
Now that construction works are in gear, congestion on the Great North Road can only worsen.
While this is inconveniencing, travellers should take comfort in the fact that it is short-lived and for a good cause.
It is, however, our hope that the contractor engaged will ensure that construction is completed within the stipulated 48 months.