President Edgar Lungu says his government is determined to transform Lusaka into a smart city which will create an enabling commercial environment.

President Lungu was speaking when he launched the design and construction of Lusaka city roads de-congestion project aimed at reducing traffic in the capital city with his Indian counterpart Shri Ram Nath Kovind in Chilanga yesterday.

President Lungu said the project would be financed by the Exim Bank of India at an estimated cost of US$289 million with 15 percent counterpart funding from the government of the Republic of Zambia.

“Indeed, the Lusaka city de-congestion project will be the biggest ever government to government cooperation between the two countries. This event takes our partnership to the next level. The traffic congestion in our capital city has become a very serious concern to all of us. It is adversely affecting transportation of people, goods and services as transporters are taking more time on the road, thereby pushing up the cost of doing business. Increased traffic congestion, is adversely affecting our environment causing air and noise pollution. Government is therefore determined to address this problem by creating an environmentally and economically attractive smart city,” President Lungu said.

He said because Zambia was a gateway and link to most Southern African countries, it was imperative to make the country a regional trade and transport hub.

“We are alive to the fact that Lusaka city is also the transit route for trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It is the gateway and link to most southern African countries thus making Zambia a regional trade and transport hub. Zambia’s strategic position in the SADC region therefore makes it imperative that we develop a modern road sector to facilitate an enabling commercial environment. I am therefore delighted that we are here to launch this landmark project which has been financed by the Exim bank of India at an estimated cost of us$289 million with 15 percent counterpart funding from the government of the republic of Zambia. The project is scheduled to be completed in 36 months. The project scope will involve the following: construction and expansion works of 120 kilometres of major roads; selected roads with two lanes will be expanded to four lanes; dedicated bus lanes will be constructed on major roads such as Kafue and great east roads to bring in bus rapid transit (BRT); junction improvement such as construction of flyovers and modern roundabouts on five major junctions; the construction of the outer ring road which will help to decongest north and south bound traffic. The launch of this project is being held here because this is where the outer ring road will pass. This will also be the major feature on this project,” President Lungu.

President Lungu also thanked the Exim bank of India for facilitating the financing of the project.

“Let me now take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Exim bank of India for facilitating the financing of this project. I also wish to urge the contractor, AFCONS Infrastructure Limited and Shapoorjipallonji Group of India, to deliver the project within the stipulated time frame with expected standard. I am confident that with their past track record, AFCONS and Shapoorjipallonji will live up to their reputation,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Shri Ram Nath Kovind said he looked forward to more collaborations between the two countries.

“I am delighted to launch this project, once completed, it will change the landscape of Lusaka City. I hope that this project will lead to more projects between Zambia and India to undertake social development programs. We will be honored to partner with you. I am confident that this will be a symbol of the long standing relations between our two countries,” said President Kovind.