MWILA NTAMBI, Mufulira
THE Ndola-Mufulira road is a strategic road connecting Ndola and Mufulira towns on the Copperbelt.
However, for many years, travellers between Ndola and Mufulira have had to use the longer route of passing through Kitwe and then proceeding to their respective destinations because the road has been in a deplorable state for as long as many people can remember.
The 70 kilometres stretch is a strategic economic road not only for Ndola and Mufulira towns, but for the entire Copperbelt Province and the nation at large.
The discomfort that travellers that have been brave enough to use this road in its current state have been subjected to will soon be confined to the books of history because President Lungu has launched the construction works on the 70 kilometres Ndola-Mufulira road at a cost of K701.7 million.
The project, which will also cover 9.8 kilometres of the Mufulira-Mokambo road, will be executed by Inyatsi Construction Limited. Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony of the project in Mufulira a week ago, President Lungu said the construction of the road is in line with Government’s agenda of transforming Zambia into a truly land-linked country.
“This road has been in a poor state for a very long time. There has not been any form of maintenance on this road for many years because of lack of funding,” President Lungu said.
He said it was a nightmare for motorists to use the road because it was “really in bad shape”.
President Lungu said Government signed a contract with Inyatsi Construction Limited in July 2015, but works on the road could not commence then as funds were not available.
“So the launching of this project has been a great source of joy for me because this is what we promised the people and more promises are yet to be fulfilled,” President Lungu said.
He was confident that the road, once worked on, would positively impact on the residents that use it.
President Lungu listed some of the benefits for travellers as; reduced congestion on the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway, reduction in travel time and vehicle operating costs, job creation opportunities for young people, as well as easier and faster transportation og agricultural produce to the market.
The Head of State directed the Road Development Agency (RDA) to ensure that local Zambian contractors benefit from the project in line with Government’s policy of giving at least 20 percent of major road works to local contractors.
President Lungu said Lusaka-based businessmen should stay away from the project and let Copperbelt people benefit from it.
He also cautioned parliamentarians and civic leaders against entangling themselves in issues of recruiting labour for the project because that is not their role.
President Lungu also advised Ndola and Mufulira residents against vandalising signposts because they are meant to enhance road safety for everyone.
He said vandalism of road infrastructure is retrogressive and should not be entertained because Government is spending colossal amounts of money to construct and repair roads.
And Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Ronald Chitotela said the scope of the works on the Ndola-Mufulira-Mokambo border road stretch will include ripping out the entire existing road and building a new one in its place, constructing concrete pavements in selected sections of the road, paving and surfacing, as well as constructing culverts, among other things.
He said the contractor for the project had already mobilised and is on site.
Mr Chitotela said his ministry and RDA are committed to ensure that the project is successfully implemented.
And Copperbelt Province Minister Bowman Lusambo said residents are happy with the launch of construction works on the Ndola-Mufulira road because it has been in a bad state for a very long time.
“Your Excellency, our residents will now sing a song of gratitude because they have been complaining about this road for a very long time now,” Mr Lusambo said.
Mr Lusambo said the road is strategic to the province because it is a shorter route for trucks from the mines in North-Western Province and Chingola.
He said the road is key in assisting the province’s diversification agenda from over-dependence on mining to agriculture because it will allow farmers to easily transport their produce to the market.
And the business community in Mufulira also shared in the joy of the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the road.
Mufulira Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) vice-president Luckson Ndhlovu said the road has important economic value not only to Mufulira district but the province at large.
He said MCCI wants its members that are contractors to be subcontracted by the main contractor under the 20 percent policy of including local contractors in major road projects.
“And we are very happy because the President categorically touched on this issue. He told RDA to ensure that local contractors are actually subcontracted on this and not contractors coming from outside the province, particularly Lusaka,” he said.
A Mufulira resident, Naomi Simpemba, thanked Government for finally listening to the cries of the people by working on the Mufulira-Ndola road.
Ms Simpemba said the road, once worked on, will improve the quality of life for its users.