Editor's Comment

Let’s be proactive

The collapsed bridge on Chipata-Lundazi road

THE destruction of bridges in various parts of Zambia due to heavy rains calls for proactivity to cushion the adverse impact of the weather.
As it were, rains are annually turning out to be a double-edged sword. On one edge, the rains are needed for agricultural production yet, on the other, too much of it causes nightmares.
Rains are a blessing because they are key to good harvests of various crops, with maize, Zambia’s staple food, being the main focus.
Zambia has continued to record bumper harvests back to back for almost a decade – many thanks to our hardworking farmers.
The rainy season is a period when vegetation thrives, thus supporting animal and plant life while a number of perennial streams spring back to life.
A good rainy season also assures of consistent power generation as most of the country’s electricity is hydropower-based.
The downside of the rains in Zambia is the damage it causes to infrastructure such as houses, roads and bridges.
Bridges form a key part of the country’s infrastructure that facilitates movement of people and goods across waterways such as rivers and streams.
Heavy rains in many parts of the country have left a trail of destruction which includes the damaging or washing away of bridges.
An example is the Lumezi bridge, a critical link between Lundazi and Chipata. The crossing has been washed away as is the case with the Lunzua bridge, the gateway between Kasama and Mpulungu.
In the Eastern Province, 20 bridges, including Lumezi, are in need of urgent attention to restore the smooth crossing of people and goods.
The collapse of the bridges means that service delivery has seriously been impaired.
Farmers cannot access markets for their crops and animals while Government, on the other hand, cannot distribute farming inputs and deliver medical supplies to areas which are unreachable by land transport.
Teachers and pupils cannot go to schools across certain rivers and streams while patients have been deprived of medical care.
Life becomes unbearable when certain areas cannot be accessed as people are cut off.
It is therefore commendable that a solution has been found for this problem through Acrow Bridges Corporation of the United States of America (USA).
The company has delivered 83 out of 139 pre-fabricated bridge components worth U$73 million for the construction of bridges across the country.
Northern, Muchinga, Lusaka, North-Western, Luapula, Eastern and Central provinces will benefit from the pre-fabricated bridge components.
The Road Development Agency (RDA) must expedite the process of engaging contractors to construct and install 10 bridges in Eastern Province for the works which are expected to commence in the second quarter of this year.
We are glad that Acrow Bridges Corporation will provide training in assembling and installing the bridges.
Citizens would want to see the value for their money of bridges project, which has been financed through a credit agreement entered between the Ministry of Finance, the Export Import Bank of the United States of America (USA) and Citi Bank.
While Government has played its part by financing the projects through a credit agreement, RDA and the Engineering Institute of Zambia should enhance their assessment of these bridges in the country.
Many of the bridges were built decades ago. Some could have outlived their lifespan.
This puts the safety and lives of vehicles and people at risk.
Many of the bridges in rural areas which were built when there was very little traffic are now structurally stressed. Such bridges must be replaced.
Although the destruction of some infrastructure is as a result of unprecedented adverse weather, proactivity could prevent some of the emergencies the country now faces.

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