Minister of Transport and Communications Brian Mushimba says government has embarked on renovation process of the water transportation system to improve modes of movement for people and goods on waterways.
And Mushimba has threatened that government will start reporting erring contractors to law enforcement agencies to punish them for their failure to provide quality service.
In a statement today, Ministry of Transport and Communications Head of Public relations Maimbolwa Mulikelela explained that Mushimba made these pronouncements when he inspected maritime infrastructure projects on lakes Bangweulu and Mweru in Luapula province recently.
Mulikelela stated that according to Mushimba, there was need to create facilities to support the vision around all waterways across the country if Zambia was to position itself as hub of transport and communication in the SADC region.
“Government would improve navigability and transportation of passengers and cargo in economically depressed areas where people are dependent on water as the only mode of transport. In improving water transportation, government intends to make comprehensive facilitates to support the economic activities in these areas where water transportation is a primary mode of transportation. Eng Mushimba said for Zambia to position itself as hub of transport and communication in the SADC region, there was need to create facilities to support that vision around all waterways across the country,” Mulikelela stated.
She disclosed that government had already procured three passenger vessels to be deployed on lake Bangweulu and Mweru to provide people with reliable and safe means of transportation after recording a number of casualties on the waterways in the same areas.
“In order to provide the people with reliable and safe means of transportation after frequent casualties on the waterways, government has further procured three passenger vessels to be deployed on lake Bangweulu and Mweru. One vessel has already been deployed in Samfya through Zampost and the minister said ‘the supply and delivery of the two by 120 passenger water buses will be done end of first quarter 2018. We have decided to procure two passenger vessels to provide safe passage and movement of passengers in those hard to reach places where water is the only mode of transportation’,” Mulikelela stated.
Mushimba also said his ministry was in the process of creating a water authority that would regulate water transportation in the country.
“Eng Mushimba said the creation of the authority would create a system that promotes development of water transportation in the country in an orderly fashion. The authority would also enhance maintenance and development of water infrastructure and help greatly in the creation of a national water transportation system that would promote private sector participation,” Mulikelela stated.
Meanwhile, Mushimba threatened that government would start reporting erring contractors to law enforcement agencies to have them punished for failure to provide quality service.
This was after he inspected works at one of the lodges in Nchelenge.
“Eng Mushimba was disappointed with the substandard work displayed by the contractor engaged to rehabilitate the lodge in Nchelenge at Lake Mweru, he said ‘we have paid them a large portion of money and this project was supposed to be done in two years now its going to four years and its not even near completion’. Eng Mushimba said government would start reporting erring contractors to the law enforcement agencies for failure to provide quality service,” Mulikelela said.
And on the communication towers, Mushimba said construction of the US$282 million communication tower project had commenced with 98 sites earmarked for Luapula province.
“Eng Mushimba said the construction of the communication towers would employ on average 30 people per site translating to at least 30,000 jobs in local and rural areas. He stated that alongside this development, the extended value chain of transport and logistics, clearing agents, professional staff through subcontractors would entail more job opportunities for the Zambians. ‘This year alone we are earmarking to complete 100 communication towers and this is roughly a three year project. The construction of the communication towers will enable increased access in information in various sectors of the economy such as in agriculture, access to market information, medical information and emergency services’. And in education, it improves access to the Internet for teachers and learners ultimately improving retention of professional staff in rural areas,” stated Mulikelela.
Mushimba also disclosed that government was committed to improving communication network by introducing a 4.5 GB network, adding that communication was key in delivering economic development.