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Quality in roads construction vital

DAMAGE to roads and bridges in Zambia during the rainy season has become an annual occurrence.
Every time a bridge or part of a road is washed away by heavy rains, Government spends colossal sums of money to repair the infrastructure.
The funds spent on rebuilding damaged public infrastructure by heavy rains in various parts of the country can be avoided if contractors do quality works on the projects.
What make it even worse are the inappropriate designs on bridges which fail to withstand floods and, as such, easily collapse.
The collapse of bridges, especially on busy and economically-viable roads, in some instances results in loss of life when the infrastructure is washed away while it is still raining.
On March 7, 2004, four people perished while several others went missing when a Chipata-bound bus from Lusaka plunged into Nkalamabwe stream after Chinyunyu bridge on Great East Road in Chongwe district was washed away by heavy rains.
Eastern Province was cut off from the rest of the country because Great East Road was the only better and faster route to Chipata district and beyond.
Vehicles such as buses and trucks carrying cargo from neighbouring Malawi and Mozambique could not cross, disrupting trade among Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Democratic Republic of Congo.
It took officers from the Zambia Army and Zambia National Service to put up a temporary bailey bridge to facilitate the movement of people and vehicles from either side of Nkalamabwe stream.
Chinyunyu bridge got washed away most likely because it was not properly designed and works on the infrastructure were probably not up to standard.
Few years ago, Lundazi bridge in Eastern Province was washed away by floods following heavy rains in the area. Lundazi district was cut off from the rest of the province.
Washing away of roads and bridges in various parts of the country has continued to date, prompting President Hakainde Hichilema yesterday to visit some damaged roads and bridges in Nangoma for him to have an on-the-spot check.
The head of State’s immediate observation was that the designs and works on some bridges were not up to desired standard.
“We need to ensure that when we have an opportunity to do public works like roads, bridges, we should build them to the highest standards.
“Quality, of course at the right price. So, we must do quality jobs, price must be right and must be delivered on time,” Mr Hichilema said.
He wants contractors engaged by Government to build roads and bridges to improve designs and do quality works so that the infrastructure is not easily washed away by floods.
The head of State said it is costly to redo works shortly after they are done because of oversight, which can easily be dealt with.
We entirely share the views of President Hichilema on the need for quality works on public infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
This is because the huge sums of money spent on redoing works on damaged roads and bridges can be channelled to other needy areas like procurement of medicines for public health facilities and provision of free education.
It is evident that the washing away of Zambian roads is due to poor workmanship, which makes Government to spend a lot of money at the expense of poor Zambians, who pay taxes.
We, therefore, urge contractors who get awarded road construction projects by Government to be exemplary in their works to avoid destruction of bridges and other public infrastructure every time it rains heavily.
The new dawn administration is about prudent utilisation of public resources.
It, therefore, cannot be spending huge sums of money on same projects when there are so many competing needs in the country which require financing.