Editor's Comment

Roads audit welcome


AS MONUMENTAL as some road constructions by the previous government especially in Lusaka may appear, they have for some time now generated arguments in political circles over the cost. For the most part of its political campaigns before the elections, the United Party for National Development (UPND) raised concerns about the high cost of the projects.
As far as UPND was concerned, the road projects suggested something rotten in the awarding of contracts resulting in inflated costs. With the party now in power, Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Charles Milupi has a duty to conduct an audit on some infrastructure to determine whether the costing was genuine or not. Mr Milupi’s decision is apt considering that there have been reports of some road projects being abandoned by contractors even after being paid.
Sadly, a lot of these abandoned projects were awarded to Zambians under the 20 percent allocation. Such scandals have been rampant in rural areas, where residents have been crying for good roads to ease transportation of their farm produce to markets. Some of the completed projects in rural areas are of poor quality and lack professionalism on the part of local contractors given the opportunity to work on them. Unfortunately, other local contractors sold their contracts to international companies and this could be one of the sources for possible inflation of cost. This grievous misconduct by some contractors deserves punishment to deter others from defrauding citizens, who are in dire need of road connectivity to ease movements.
The possibility of the cost of some abandoned projects being inflated brings the concern of corruption. The audit of the projects will help in bringing closure to the beneficiaries as to why they have been subjected to the same lip service. Zambians should not feel neglected because of the lack of sincerity on the part of those entrusted to provide a service. Road Development Agency (RDA) should boldly help in carrying out the audit of all projects without fear of burning its fingers. The agency should also provide answers on why the construction of roads in Zambia costs higher than in other countries in the southern African region. Some projects took long to finish even when money was released for contractors to complete in good time so that people could benefit from them. We impress upon all stakeholders to support the move to audit the road projects for sanity to prevail in the sector. Cost saving should be the language in the road sector especially that Zambia has a huge task of paying its debt obligations to IMF and other international lending institutions. It is an undeniable fact that road infrastructure plays an important role in the growth of a country’s economy but any illegality defeats the purpose for creating them. Those involved in the tendering processes of road projects must take heed of President Hakainde Hichilema’s call for prudence in the system.
We believe this will ensure quality in all the projects, which can also be done within the given time frame. RDA should make sure contractors adhere to the agreed timeframe to avoid misappropriation of funds when projects take long to finish.

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