AN EXTENSIVE and high quality road infrastructure network plays a vital role in a modern market-based economy. It acts as a conduit for the movement of goods and services within the country and beyond.
Besides that, good road infrastructure also adds to the beauty and modernity of a country.
Zambia started on a solid base of road infrastructure development during Kenneth Kaunda’s era; however, the momentum was lost along the way.
After developing the road infrastructure to a seemingly fair level, instead of building on that, as a country we went back to sleep.
This is how roads were left to deteriorate to unacceptable levels. For instance, we had some tarred roads downgraded back to gravel while others were immensely potholed.
Towards the end of the MMD reign, there was an attempt to develop road infrastructure, however it was too late because their time in office was up.
With the coming of Patriotic Front into office in 2011, we have witnessed massive road infrastructure development under the Link 8,000 and L400 projects, among others.
This has seen thousands of kilometrs of roads constructed across the country and in townships.
However, it is not good enough to just build roads, we need to maintain them if they are to continue playing a vital role in our economic growth.
This is why we are elated at the news that the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) has continued to collect good amounts of revenue through the toll gates.
NRFA recently announced that it had collected K170 million in tolls from January to April with the amount expected to rise to K670 million by the end of the year.
The amount of revenue realised from toll gates will no doubt go a long way in maintaining the country’s blossoming road infrastructure.
It also demonstrates that as a country we are capable of raising and using our own resources to develop, other than depending on costly borrowed funds.
It is said prevention is better than cure. As a country we need to strengthen our road sector’s preventive maintenance system to avoid spending colossal sums of money in road reconstruction.
Given the revenue that is being collected through toll gates, we are optimistic that the road infrastructure in Zambia will never be allowed to deteriorate to worst levels experienced in the past.
We are therefore appealing to NRFA to ensure that the money collected is used prudently and for the intended purpose of developing and maintaining road infrastructure.
Driving on good roads will be motivation enough for motorists to willingly part away with their hard-earned money to pay toll fees.
Needless to say if roads are not maintained despite collecting handsome amounts of toll fees, we fear motorists may have reservations to comply with toll regulation.
For now, we commend motorists for their unwavering compliance.
It is only through collective efforts that we will be able to turn this country into a beautiful home that we will all be proud of.