NDC consultant Chishimba Kambwili says it is an insult to name a toll plaza after late President Michael Sata because the man never wanted citizens to be subjected to so many levies.
And Kambwili says it is not possible that the newly-commissioned Kitwe-Ndola toll plaza would cost US$4.3 million instead of about K7 million.
On Sunday, President Edgar Lungu commissioned the Kitwe-Ndola toll plaza saying the newly-built facilities were not meant to over-burden road users, but to create a sustainable goal.
“It is not done to over-burden the road users, but to create a sustainable goal. It is a global norm of financing and maintenance of road Infrastructure. So, when you hear these, just ignore and join the development agenda of this government. If we run short of money we shall responsibly borrow to improve the lives of the country. I must make it clear that, there is no country that does not borrow. When you borrow, we borrow to use and not to eat! We are not ashamed to say that,” said President Lungu.
“US $4.3 million has been spent on this project. This project, which has been named after the founding father of the PF, our father, could not come at a great time after we put to rest our mother (mama Kankasa). It is our prayer that his legacy can be protected and grown. I am saying this because there are people saying that, ‘Lungu has lost Mr Sata’s vision, no Lungu this, Lungu that.’ If we carry on the vision of Mr Sata and someone says, ‘we have forgotten,’ then we say, ‘tawaliko iwe!’ (you were not there), you don’t know what Mr Sata stood for.”
But in a statement, Kambwili argued that the toll plaza in question was an insult to the late Head of State because he never stood for more taxes to burden the poor citizenry.
“It is irregular for the PF government to come and name the Ndola-Kitwe toll gate as ‘Michael Chilufya Sata toll gate.’ President Michael Sata was against too much taxes [but] today, there is going to be more than six toll-gates from Lusaka to Chililabombwe, meaning, therefore, [that] if somebody is travelling from Lusaka to Chililabombwe, he has to have K260 for toll gates only as a levy! I don’t think president Michael Sata wanted to subject the Zambian people to that kind of levies. And it would be wrong for him to be associated with these taxes that are being unfair on the general citizenry more, especially the poor. To travel from Luanshya to Ndola, one would need K40 per day and you know that Luanshya has got no jobs, and most of the people in Luanshya now, are working in Ndola. All the wholesalers are in Ndola meaning, therefore, [that] the cost of doing business in Luanshya is going to go up by the installation of this toll plaza,” Kambwili cautioned.
He argued that the facility looked too simple to cost as high as US$4.3 million.
“And surely, there are too many things that the President can do other than coming to officially open a toll gate, which is going to be unfair to the general citizenry. This is what we call proper ‘Chipante-pante.’ And I want to challenge the government to tell us what has made this toll gate cost US $4.3 million? I think Zambians are being taken for a ride! There is no way that toll plaza can cost US $4.3 million. This is corruption of the worst kind! If you look at the FRA sheds that were built all over Zambia, those sheds cost K5 million. We erected those sheds under Michael Sata. Go and look at [the] computation of that shed and go and look at the simplicity in that toll gate, you will see that this government is a thieving government! They have stolen the money, and let’s call for a forensic audit to find out what material was used for that toll plaza to cost US $4.3 million. This is daylight robbery against the people of Zambia,” charged Kambwili.
“That toll gate, to be fair, can only cost K6 million to K7 million. Look at the Michael Sata Hospital in Mpika and all these other hospitals, do you know the cost? It’s K12 million. Where is US $4.3 million on that toll plaza? With only one permanent building [which is] the office block. But I challenge them on a serious note to tell us where the US $4.3 million has been spent on that toll plaza? And Lungu should have some shame when stealing. And all the infrastructure that is built on deals, he is always the one coming to commission them. Why? If the President is going to be officiating at the commission of a toll plaza, what are the ministers going to be doing? It’s because the man is not busy. He just wants to come and see that ‘here we have stolen and it has been delivered and now we have to get our commission.”