In an interview with ZNBC staffer Chitalu Mulenga at his office, Tuesday, Lusambo commended AVIC International for its contribution to the aviation sector and improvement of the road network in Zambia.
“As government, we are enjoying a very good relationship with AVIC. Having come from the Copperbelt Province where I worked with AVIC International very well in two projects: one project in the road sector and the other one in the aviation sector, I think the relationship was very good. And coming to Lusaka, I have been working with AVIC in road projects. So, I can comfortably say that, the relationship between AVIC and government is very good, we are enjoying. When I was young, we had Finnish contractors; China Geo and those who were working with previous governments. But when AVIC came into picture, it has been giving quality roads to the people of Zambia. And with delivering time, I think they are efficient with their works. I have been inspecting AVIC’s projects in the Province, I think they have been doing a good job and they have been delivering to the expectations of the people and government. When it comes to the work culture, I think they know exactly what they want to achieve and for them, it’s not just business, they attach other issues to their works. If you see AVIC working, you will know that they want to deliver a good service to the people of Zambia,” Lusambo said.
Lusambo also considered the Chinese, and AVIC International, part of the broader Zambian community because of what the company had been doing in the country.
“AVIC, to me, are now Zambians because they know our culture and we know their culture. The relationship, which we have been enjoying, is not only about AVIC; as a country since independence, we have been enjoying a good relationship with China. So, AVIC has just come to cement that relationship. I can assure you that AVIC when you call them that ‘you are Chinese’, they refuse that, they say: ‘we are Zambians’. They consider us to be their brothers and sisters because whatever things that we do, they do it. They want to see that the roads, which the people of Zambia are moving on, are better roads because also AVIC and their relatives use the same roads,” Lusambo claimed.
“A country cannot develop with bad roads; a country cannot develop with no roads. We have been seeing the opening up of new districts, opening up of provinces and also the expansion of roads in our CBD [Central Business District], especially in Lusaka. Lusaka is a very busy town and we need to have access roads and I am happy that apart from the roads which we have doing, we have also other roads, which we are doing by trying to decongest Lusaka. So, the works which AVIC is doing is adding value, not only to us as government by delivering to the expectation of the people, but also to the people themselves. Just moving from Chelstone to CBD we take more than hour, but this expansion, which we are doing with AVIC will reduce the time which we spend on the roads.”
Asked how government was responding to concerns of Chinese investors who were ill-treating Zambians in their contractual works, Lusambo said government was quite responsive and had been engaging with the investors who were also showing compliance.
“Yes, that thing has been there and we have been on top of things as government to make sure that the investors who are coming into our country, especially the contractors who have come to set up businesses in our country, to respect the labour laws and also to know that the first investor is the indigenous Zambian. AVIC is like any other investor, who has come to invest in our country, has come to make profit in our country and we need to protect our people, and the reason why I am here as a Minister is to protect the people of Zambia. I have to protect my people and I can assure that we won’t tolerate any investor who will be mistreating our people. In terms of AVIC, we have been following AVIC’s work culture….me I have worked with AVIC for some time now and I engage with their bosses, we talk and we agree if things are not okay,” he narrated.
“We do talk with AVIC, they are very easy to talk to, and they adapt to the conditions, which we want our workers to be working under. The most important thing I like about AVIC is that they don’t want to demonstrate, they don’t want people to complain. And if they hear that there is this rumour, I think their management is so effective when it comes to those areas.”
Meanwhile, Lusambo said he was expecting a beautified Lusaka city with accessible and passable roads, once the L400 road project was completed by AVIC International.
“With the L400, I think we will see a different Lusaka altogether because it will change the face of Lusaka. It is going to open up a lot of areas. When you have time, go to Kasisi, go to Meanwood area, we are grading these areas and I can assure you that Lusaka will be different. That’s why even the relaunching of the ‘keep Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ [campaign] by His Excellency, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, AVIC also will help us by beautifying our places after the L400. With AVIC, the new roads, which are coming as we are decongesting Lusaka, I think we will see a changed Lusaka. But I want to appeal to the people of Zambia that all this infrastructure that government is doing, let us keep it nice because it our infrastructure. We are spending colossal sums of money, and these are things which were supposed to done 30-40 years ago,” said Lusambo.
“The people of Zambia need to support [the] President because he is the President who is not thinking of his term. If you are sitting with President Lungu, the things which he talks about he plans beyond his term, beyond even some of us. Some of the programmes that President Edgar Lungu talks about are beyond 30-40 years and some of us won’t be here. But he has a vision for this country. The President has created a very good relationship with other nations. That’s why you see other presidents coming to this country. The President has been moving to go and see how other people live. And he has seen good things in other countries, and he wants to develop this country. We don’t call him a ‘great leader’ for nothing; we call him a ‘great leader’ because he has been doing great things to this great country. The people of Zambia are very lucky to have this president at this time. And for AVIC, they should continue giving the people of Zambia a good service because we are in this together.”