Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela says the road sector has a huge debt of K4 billion owed both to the contractors and the public.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka when he unveiled the new Road Development Agency (RDA) board today, Chitotela said government was determined to liquidate the debt.

Chitotela urged the new board to start identifying continuous road maintenance contractors.

“Currently what we owe the contractors is K4 billion which is almost $400 million dollar and we are determined. The assurance I want to give to the Road contractors out there is that commitment from this government is to make sure that the total debt which is owed to them both to contractors and consultants is fully liquidated. Its a serious commitment, by the time I was appointed, I found it somewhere above K7 billion, we have been paying contractors as they are working. So the K4 billion it actually includes the new interim payment certificates. So we can safely say we have shown serious commitment of liquidating the debt that we owe to our contractors,” Chitotela disclosed.

“That is why I was calling upon the board to join hands with the government in making sure that we clear this debt because once we pay, also the majority of the consultants are Zambians, we will be assured that money will stay in Zambia and money will be spent in Zambia. As to when we are releasing money as government, there is a continuous flow of money. So maybe by the end of next week, we will be releasing more money for the contractors so that we keep the flow of economic activities in Zambia.”

He also warned the new board to be careful in making decisions as some of the decisions made might make it (board) unpopular.

“I want to encourage you to perform to the best of your expectation and the expectation of the major stakeholders who are the Zambian people. I wish to state that government expect you to settle immediately and start performing the functions for which you have been appointed. I believe that all of you are joining the RDA board for effective and efficient delivery of key infrastructure development agenda as enshrined in the Patriotic Front manifesto and the 7th National Development plan. I must emphasise that you can be effective but if you are not efficient, you will not give us the desired outcome,” said Chitotela.

The 16 member board is comprised of Samuel Mukupa who is the Chairperson, Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Pamela Kabamba, Local Government Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka, Former Transport Minister Yamfwa Mukanga, RTSA Chief Executive Officer Zindaba Soko, and Elias Mwape who will also be the board Secretary among others.