JIMMY CHIBUYE, Mongu
CONSTRUCTION of the US$286.9 million Mongu-Kalabo Road is 75 percent complete and the road Development Agency (RDA) is optimistic that the project will be completed in April next year.
And the RDA has issued a pre-qualification for the construction of the 85-kilometre Kalabo-Sikongo road and has shortlisted five contractors to participate in the bidding process.
The 34 km stretch runs from Mongu town to a place called Tapo in Kalabo and will have a total of 26 bridges with the main one measuring 1,022 metres long across the Zambezi River.
Works on the road, which is one of the major projects under the Link Zambia 8,000 started in 2011.
Government has engaged Avic International to undertake the project under the supervision of Rankin Engineering Consultants.
RDA senior manager public relations Loyce Saili said when, she inspected the project on Tuesday that the contactor has made considerable progress of about 75 percent to completion.
Mrs Saili said the contractor has so far tarred about eight kilometers and is expected to complete the entire 34km of the highway by the end of this year.
â€œThe contractor so far has paved eight kms of the road to back top. The projection is that by the end of this year, the contractor would have paved the entire 34 km surface and will remain with other works into next year,â€ she said.
Mrs Saili added: â€œWe are happy with the progress that has been made so far and RDA as the implementing agency, we are pleased with the progress the contractor has made this far.â€
She said safety features such as guard rails and hand rails have been provided on the road and bridges, respectively.
Mrs Saili said RDA and the contractor are, however, concerned with overspeeding by motorists on the temporary diversion.
She said residents should be cognisance of the fact that the diversion is still a construction site and should adhere to the given speed limits to avoid fatalities.
Mrs Saili said the Mongu- Kalabo road will ease movement of people between the two towns.
On the Kalabo-Sikongo road, Mrs Saili said one contractor will be selected out of the five shortlisted to upgrade from gravel to bituminous standard at an estimated cost of US$60 million.
She said the project has four financiers namely the Arab Bank of Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Opec Fund for International Development (OFID), Kuwait Fund and Saudi Fund.
â€œWe hope that by the end of the year, this process would have been dealt with and the contractor identified. This is a very challenging terrain and very sandy but it is our desire to provide bituminous road for the people of this area,â€ Mrs Saili said.
She said the Kalabo-Sikongo road project is of economic significance because ultimately, it will feed into the Mongu- Kalabo road and connect Zambia to Angola.
Mrs Saili said the full economic benefit of the Mongu-Kalabo road will be realised once the Kalabo-Sikongo road is tarred and connected with Angola.
â€œThere is a lot of potential of trade between Angola and Zambia via Sikongo and the rest of our country. We are hopeful that with the delivery of this project, trade and other business opportunities will be enhanced between the two countries,â€ she said.
Mrs Saili said Angola is an oil producing country and the two roads can provide an alternative source of oil and other commodities between the two countries.
And Rankin Engineering resident engineer Salah Gad said the Avic International has done extremely well on the Mongu- Kalabo road.
JIMMY CHIBUYE, Mongu