ROAD Development Agency (RDA) board chairperson Mulchand Kuntawala says there is need for the country to invest in railway systems to reduce truck traffic on all roads across the country.

Speaking during a tour of the Lusaka-Ndola road, Kuntawala said there was need to upscale investment in the railway system to lessen the impact on the condition of roads.

“The traffic is very slow and unfortunately the tracks are not keeping gaps between them. From a transport logistic angle, the question is why are there so many trucks on our roads? I think the answer is very simple, unfortunately, our rail system has not performed. If our railway system has picked up a larger portion of your bulk commodity, we would have lesser trucks and heavy duty trucks on our roads. I think as a country we need to look at all facets of transport, be it roads and rail and see how we can increase better capacity of our railways, that would have less impact then on the condition of our roads,” he said.

“Like I have said, there are so many competing needs in the road sector alone. Forget about us as a country, just zeroing down to the road sector, a lot of it is going to have to come through the PPPs arrangement. As I stated earlier, I think we need our railway systems to gear up, lets also as a country put some investment into the railway sector because they should be able to carry very efficiently at very economic rates a lot of your bulk loads. That will reduce the truck traffic on all our roads across the country.”

And commenting on the Luanshya/ Ndola turnoff Gazzeted M-6 road, Kuntawala expressed concern over the condition of the road.

“We are along the Luanshya turnoff road going into Luanshya and taking us onto the dual carriageway going into Kitwe and beyond. What I can almost say if you look around is that this road has been abandoned, the condition of this road is because of no attention to this road, not just a year ago, this is cumulative effect of total neglect on maintenance and rehab,” he said.

“I think this probably goes back quite a few years, four, five, seven years. This road is so important because it is supposed to be a bypass effectively for your imports in the Copperbelt and exports out of Copperbelt, to pass through this road so that you by pass Ndola. It should be a road which will ease pressure on the dual carriageway through Ndola up to the turnoff and going towards Kapiri Mposhi. It is unfortunate that we have let this road go to the condition it is in. This road is supposed to have a lot of trucks moving, all our Copper should actually be passing through on this road carrying us into Kapiri Mposhi and beyond.”

He said the Agency would ensure that the road was done under a Public Private Partnership.

“There are so many competing needs as a country just on the road sector alone. I think this is one road, it is only about 32 kilometres long and I think it is an ideal opportunity for a Public Private Partnership to maintain this road, bringing it up to the right level and to go through and give a private investor concession so that this road diverts the traffic through it, as it originally [was] planned. So we will look at it and see how we can convince the private players in the market to come and invest in this road. That is going to be our way forward for now,” said Kuntawala.