Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela says the Michael Chilufya Sata Toll Plaza cost $4.3 million because it has superior, sophisticated infrastructure which will not compromise revenue collection at the facility.

And Chitotela says because opposition leaders like Hakainde Hichilema have realized that it will be hard to campaign against President Lungu in 2021, they had resorted to cheap propaganda.

Speaking on ZNBC’s Government Forum, Monday, Chitotela responded to concerns regarding the cost of the Michael Chilufya Sata Toll Plaza.

“I have received a lot of queries saying ‘why should we construct a toll plaza at K43 million. We are talking about a modern conventional toll plaza with eight lanes. It is not just a toll plaza, it is coming with a back control, a system engagement, a back control room where everything that is happening on all our toll plazas now are linked to the main server at National Road Fund Agency. The total cost includes payment to Zesco supply of electricity, buying of a standby generator, the provision of a software that connects, and we said we are not going to procure a foreign software because we need to support our own so Zamtel is providing. You find out that the cost of the service provision including electricity and the printing of the cards, because we are launching this for the first time in Zambia, the total cost of connecting, this card will not just work on Michael Chilufya Sata Toll Plaza, it can work on any of the plazas in Zambia, that is the total cost. We have the office block, the server room, a network system connected to the main server at NRFA so that when the cashier is receiving money, even NRFA is able to monitor that and the vehicle number is captured. Whatever is happening at our toll plazas across the country are being monitored so obviously, we are not just talking about the construction of a toll plaza and that’s why I said we have different types of toll plazas,” Chitotela said.

He said toll plazas which were constructed for much less did not have sophisticated software.

“We have what we call a simplified toll plaza which can cost as low as four million. What will determine is that kind of infrastructure that you are putting there and the traffic volumes because you can’t put a simplified plaza on Ndola-Kitwe dual carriageway because we are anticipating more than 17,000 vehicles per day and according to the estimated net per month, we are expecting to be raising between nine to 10 million Kwacha every month on that toll plaza so we need to put enhanced security system so that we don’t compromise in terms of revenue collection,” Chitotela said.

He said government projected to recoup the $4.3 million within four months of operation.

“And if you go to the road going to Chipata where we expect only 2,000 vehicles per day, you can’t put an enhanced toll plaza like the one we have put at Katuba because it is not cost effective. The investment we have put on that toll plaza which is K43 million, we will be able to raise it within three or four months,” he said.

And Chitotela said because opposition leaders like Hakainde Hichilema could not fault President Lungu on delivering development, they had resorted to cheap propaganda.

“You can go to every province in Zambia, you will find some development taking place…at least in every province, there are major infrastructure developments that are taking place. Zambia has been turned into a construction site. The time I was coming, I came with some Zambians that have not been in Zambia for the past two years and they were saying ‘is this Zambia?’ and I told them that ‘yes, it is good to come and see what we are doing’. And that’s why even the opponents, I have never heard anybody condemning that President Lungu is not delivering development. But what they have resolved to do now is cheap propaganda; inciting Zambians, lying to the Zambians. They began by saying that President Lungu has sold ZNBC to the Chinese just to incite people,” said Chitotela.