Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela says government will raise at least K1.3 billion as net profit from the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway 17 years after it becomes operational.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Chototela also said that the Lusaka-Ndola road project once completed will not only improve economic activities of the country but that it will also make a mark as President Edgar Lungu’s signature project.

“And this road alone, we are going to raise over K300 million beginning January. This road alone has three toll plazas but with the coming one if we finish will have four, and we will be making another one as you are coming into Mpongwe because we are aware that out people will be diverting as they are going to Luanshya and then Kitwe. Our projection according to analysis that has been done by the professionals, we are investing 1.2 billion and the payment period is 17 years. Our projection is that by 17th year, this road will have raise 3.5 billion kwacha, just on this road. So if you subtract 1.2 billion out of the 3.5 billion, we will still remain with over 1.3 billion as net profit. And that many will be invested in other road projects,” Chitotela said.

He said that his government would focus on delivering to the Zambian people despite efforts by others to frustrate the project.

“I know why people are very bitter about this road, it’s because this road is on the double sword, it will improve economic activities of Zambia and it is a signature project for His Excellency President Lungu. And I know people who have are bent politicking who think that they would come and rule on the misfortune that maybe this government would fail to deliver, then they would come and say they have failed. They may want to do everything possible to frustrate the project but I want to assure the Zambian people that we are determined to deliver development that is of quality and cost effective,” he said.

“You know a contract is a public document and anybody can go to RDA and say ‘can I look at the contract.’ I feel as a Minister that this is a better deal the Zambian government has gotten because we are not just making the road, we are also creating communities, we are also creating satellite cities. The road that we are building must also come with facilities that will support growth, facilities that will bring economic activities and what this road will do is it will reduce the transit time.”

Chitotela disclosed that the road project was negotiated by a team of three independent men who were not part of government.

“I am a Minister and I can tell you that this project was negotiated by a team of independent men who are not even part of government. Government constituted a team of three people, eminent private Zambians headed by a lawyer, an engineer and an economist, they are the ones who composed the team of negotiators, who negotiated with the contractor. And when people say ‘we need to invite people to investigate this with a forensic audit…’I just said maybe the difference then and now maybe our friends then were there to enrich themselves and they are thinking the way they were doing is the way we are doing. We have come in to serve the Zambian people; ours is service above self and that’s why this road is not just a road but a road that is building the community,” Chitotela said.

“Every successful government has politicked about this road. The previous successful government promised people that they would do but for us through the leadership of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his government we have said ‘ours is not for us to talk but for us to deliver so that Zambian people will see’ because this project is a demand driven project, this is what Zambian people want. And this road is coming with a number of important components, it is coming with a weigh bridge, it is coming with a toll plaza, its coming with three service stations and it will be run by this government. It is coming with two areas as satellite cities, it is coming also with to build the office space for road development agency, it’s not building for Chitotela, it’s a government projects.”

He said all legal processes were followed when awarding the contract.

“There are three procedures of identifying a contractor; one, there is a contract that will go through advertisement, there is also a contract which can go into a selective bidding and [there is] single-sourcing. But what is important, I want to assure the Zambian people, every bit of legal procedure was followed from A to Z. Authority to procure from the national Treasury was obtained, Secretary to the Treasury gave authority for RDA to procure, ZPPA (Zambia Public Procurement Authority) also gave authority to RDA to go into a contract with this contractor, the Office of Attorney General cleared the contract and said all the parameters have been met government can sign the contract with this contractor,” Chitotela said.

The Minister further assured the nation that the construction of the Ndola-Lusaka dual carriageway would be completed even before schedule.

“I want to assure the Zambian people that this project will be completed even before schedule because we’ll not have challenges in terms of financing – the money has been secured, it’s a project which is fully funded. It’s a project that was negotiated by private people [and] the contractor who is going to build this road is the one who is constructing the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Kenneth Kaunda International Airport was expected to be completed in 2019. I was passing through there and the contractor was assuring me by the end of next year, they are going to handover the new Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, the second terminal, and then the contractor will move to rehabilitate the old one. That is the same zeal and that is the same commitment the contractor has given to this road project and we’ve told the contractor that we want this road project to be completed and handed over to government before the end of 2021,” he said.

Chitotela also urged Zambian contractors to take road projects as a business of creating wealth among themselves.

“Even when I was speaking about taking road projects as a business, my fellow citizens, this is an opportunity for the private entities to make money, how many people are responding? I am the vice Chairperson of the PPU council of Ministers. If we are evaluating ten projects, can all the participants in ten projects be foreigners? We stopped awarding them because it’s the same people who are participating. The question I want to ask Zambians is have we had Zambians who had participated or other companies who have participated and then have been disqualified would have met all the criterion and then they are not awarded, not under my leadership,” said Chitotela.

“We need to create wealth amongst ourselves, we need to create wealth among Zambians. We need to promote Zambians to participate in these contracts. Right now there are adverts running, ask how many Zambians have participated? I have told Hon Mutati that it may not be deliberate that Zambians are failing to participate in these big infrastructure development projects, maybe it is because they may lack financial capacity.”