Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela says the international media has now started accusing government of selling national assets because corruption allegations were not sticking.

Speaking during the tour of construction works at the new Kenneth Kaunda International Airport terminal, Chitotela dismissed reports that KKIA had been given to China accusing the international media of trying to destroy President Edgar Lungu’s leadership.

“This loan is a concessional in nature. The interest maybe is between one and two per cent. So the Zambian people must be assured that the beautiful terminal which is almost complete is their facility. I know that there has been a lot of politics. Our friends from the international media that are bent to destroy the leadership of President Lungu…they begun with corruption. That was a song in the previous months and it is not ticking. The Zambian people have seen that that which they are talking about and the developments are not tallying because surely, if under infrastructure development money was not being channelled to the infrastructure, I don’t think we could have been seeing that which we have been seeing. Now they realise that that is not sticking, they have now turned and said look ‘they have sold the KK airport’,” Chitotela said.

“The Chinese is a contractor [and] the project is expected to be completed in October 2019 and before the end of October –November next year, we should be able to commission it for use to the public. I must emphasize that once the project is completed, the contractor will be able to move to the old terminal that will be working as a domestic terminal because this will be dedicated to international flights. So even the old terminal will also receive a facelift, it will also be attended to.”

He insisted that the new KKIA terminal was 100 per cent owned by Zambians.

“The modernization of the terminal two that is the international terminal and the tax way, the VVIP, the presidential pavilion, the 70 room transit hotel for those will be in transit in an event that you are waiting for a long time or you have missed the plane and you don’t want to go outside the airport. I must state here that why we came, we wanted to assure the Zambian people that the investment that their government under the leadership of President Lungu has been putting in to modernize this airport. This facility is owned 100 per cent by Zambians, no private person neither local nor international or foreign governments that have taken over,” said Chitotela.

“This we are still executing the loan. The terminal is very exciting because it is at 85 per cent complete and what is more important is that this project is fully being supervised by Zambian engineers under the ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development. And I want to encourage my friends, the permanent secretary and the team to make sure that we give quality to the Zambian people. Once we prove that we can, we shall inspire confidence in the lot of Zambians. And I want also to assure Zambians that there has been a lot of speculation concerning the Chinese taking over the facility. It’s not true as the Minister of Finance did issue a statement in Parliament that this facility is still under construction and the financing bank in China, the Exim Bank of China is still releasing funds. Out of the $360 million, maybe about $200 million has been released. So there is no way that the facility can be taken over by the Chinese government. This is even not part of the agreement. The loan agreement is fully secured by the international insurance company of China,” Chitotela explained.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development Permanent Secretary Eng Charles Mushota said the contractor working on the project had not implemented the 20 per cent local sub-contracting policy.

“The 20 per cent subcontracting has not been as expected and the explanation is the fact that most of the works which are being done here are very specialized. However for all the external works, we have instructed the contractors that this should sub-contracted to the Zambian contractors, but where possible also, we have engaged the main contractor to work with the local contractors because once this infrastructure is completed, this infrastructure will be maintained by the Zambians. Therefore there has to be technology and skills transfer between the contractor China Jianxi and also the Zambian people. However I wish to state that the issue of the 20 per cent sub-contracting has not been impressive on this project,” said Mushota.