NANCY SIAME, NKOLE MULAMBIA, Ndola
NKOMBO KACHEMBA, MWILA NTAMBI, Chingola
PRESIDENT Lungu yesterday launched construction works of the US$397 million new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, which is expected to create 8,000 jobs for the local people.
And President Lungu yesterday launched the works on the US$461 million Zambia Township Road Project on the Copperbelt with a stern warning to supervisors that they risk being fired should they entertain shoddy works from the contractor engaged to execute the project.
The project, which has been funded by the Export and Import Bank of China, through a preferential buyer credit loan, is expected to create 3,000 jobs during the construction stage, and 5,000 upon completion.
Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony, President Lungu said the project is a clear demonstration of Government’s vision to improve lives of Zambians.
“Government has prioritised the development of transport infrastructure as it is essential for the economic development of the country,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu said Government is committed to addressing the many challenges which affect the transport sector to attain a diversified economy.
He said with the construction of the new airport, the country is poised to be a transport hub for the region.
“It is important that the construction of the airport is taking place here as Copperbelt is a cherished economic hub,” President Lungu said.
He said the new airport, once completed, is expected to attract big airlines which will increase revenue for the country from tourists and other businesses as Zambia’s presence on the global market will be enhanced.
He said the country’s aviation industry will compete favourably once the new airport is completed.
President Lungu said the jobs that will be created will also reduce the high unemployment, especially among the youth.
“The local contractors should also be engaged to help build capacity. The contractors engaged should also be equal to the task and not disappoint,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu is impressed with the many projects taking place under his leadership and assured the nation that more are yet to come as he will not waste time on meaningless politics, as Zambia is on the move to greater development.
He thanked China for being a true friend of Zambia, adding that the sound bilateral ties that exist between the two countries will continue growing.
And Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Ronald Chitotela said the airport, which will house a business complex, a hotel, and a 3.5 kilometre runway, is expected to be completed within the next three years.
Mr Chitotela said his ministry will give close supervision to Avic International, the contractor engaged to undertake the project, to ensure it stands the test of time.
Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo said the airport marks a turning point in the development of air transport infrastructure in Zambia in respect to passenger facilitation and allied air services.
Mr Lusambo thanked President Lungu for his visionary leadership.
He also said the project will help the province diversify from copper dependency, and boost trade within the region.
And Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming commended Government for launching the project, saying the country is poised to become a potential air transportation hub for the region.
Mr Yang said he is also impressed with commitment and determination by Government to develop the country as evidenced by the launch of the seventh national development plan.
He said China will continue to contribute to the development of Zambia and help the country attain its 2030 goal of becoming a prosperous middle-income country.
Avic International president Liu Jun said the company is excited to start the construction of the modern international facility and promised to deliver quality works by putting up a world-class piece.
Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba said Government will implement the construction works of the four international airports at an accelerated rate to actualise the role the aviation sector plays to grow and diversify the economy.
And launching works on the township road project, President Lungu said Government is spending colossal sums of money on maintaining infrastructure, hence the need to ensure supervisors do a good job in supervising works.
Under the project, a total of 306 kilometres of township roads in Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira, Ndola, Kalulushi and Chambeshi will be rehabilitated.
“We will not entertain mediocrity. We are spending colossal sums of money on these projects. I have been warning people but they think I just talk, so if I fall on you like a tonne of bricks, do not think I am merciless,” he said.
President Lungu urged AVIC international, the contractor engaged to carry out works on the project to ensure 20 percent of the works are sub-contracted to Zambian contractors as per Government policy.
He also urged Zambian contractors that will engaged to work on the project to ensure they do quality works.
President Lungu also assured the remaining districts that have not been catered for under the project that they will be included on similar road projects.
He also announced that Government has sourced K2.1 million to finance the ongoing works on the Kitwe-Chingola and Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageways.
And speaking at Ndola’s Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport shortly before departure, President Lungu said changes will soon be made to Ndola City Council to restore order at the local authority, reports CHISHALA MUSONDA.