Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela has blamed the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) the for lack of clarity on the construction cost of the new Michael Chilufya Sata toll plaza in Ndola.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday interview programme, Chitotela said the public would not have been questioning the amount spent on the construction of the toll plaza had EIZ been as proactive as the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ).

He argued that the EIZ had not come out to breakdown the cost of each of the components that had been installed at the new toll gate.

“A lot of people have said that: ‘you can build a toll plaza at US$500,000’ and I have challenged them, even in Parliament I did challenge them that, if you can, come with the specific Bills of Quantity (BoQ), specific designs like Michael Chilufya Sata, and then you build a toll plaza at US $500,000. Just mention one country in the region and that toll plaza, I have even told RDA that I am ready to step down that we have betrayed the Zambian people. That US$500,000 can’t even buy software for you to propel a toll plaza like Michael Chilufya Sata. We did a survey, we checked regionally and internationally; a toll plaza on the dual carriage way in America is costing US$12 million and that’s a fact, you can google. In Zimbabwe, a toll plaza like the one we built in Chongwe at US$1.7 million in Zimbabwe, they’ve built it at US$2 million. So, I wanted to do a cost-comparison analysis. You are talking about the Michael Chilufya Sata, which spans on the dual carriage way,” Chitotela explained.

“I want Zambians to challenge me, and that’s why I challenged my colleagues in Parliament from UPND that, we built Michael Chilufya Sata at around 38 K39 million, while Manyumbi Toll Plaza, which is a span on one road built by someone, who was a UPND candidate in Nangoma constituency (Nzovu Transport) at a cost of K48 million. It is this government that came to terminate after he could not finish on time. And the cost justification for Michael Chilufya Sata…Zambians have been demanding for a BoQ! You can go to RDA, and what I did on Thursday in Parliament, I even laid on the table the BoQ so that members of parliament can go through and Zambians can have access and interrogate… I think that’s why even His Excellency, the President (Edgar Lungu), has complained against the ‘Laissez-faire’ attitude by the Engineering Institution of Zambia. They are the professionals, if they could be as proactive as the Economics Association of Zambia is, to come to the Zambian people and explain, then none of these questions could have arisen!”

Chitotela also regretted that people could be comparing the cost of the newly-constructed former president Rupiah Banda’s retirement house, the lavish Makeni mansion, to a toll plaza, which he insisted was made up of sophisticated equipment.

“I saw comparisons where Zambians were comparing a residence to a toll plaza, which has sophisticated equipment. I want to speak to this that when you check the civil works at that toll plaza, it cost us about US $1.9 million. Tolling systems and booth equipment cost us about US $161,700. If you check power supply and related installation, US $270,537. Signal lighting for the traffic control, its about US $59,000. Design fee, it cost us US $95,000. Surveillance system, US $193,000. The preliminary works and generals, US $319,000. Value Added Tax… because without VAT, that toll plaza was costing us less than US $4 million, it was about US $3.7 million. So, I must explain that if the Engineering Institution of Zambia were as proactive as the Economics Association of Zambia… these are the colleagues whom RDA contracted to do the design. I have been speaking to EIZ in private, but now I need to tell the Zambian people that I have been speaking to them, but they are not being as proactive as we expect them to be,” Chitotela complained.

Meanwhile, he disclosed that government had realised toll fees in excess of K797 million from various toll plazas countrywide from January to November this year.

“From the time we started road tolling in Zambia, we’ve raised in excess of K2.6 billion. From January to November this year, we’ve raised in excess of K797 million. If you check, today, I think Zambians are able to tell that we are having perfect roads,” argued Chitotela.

“If there is one thing PF has been credited for, it’s infrastructure development. President Lungu’s development agenda on infrastructure is second to none, and that’s why even our opponents are not criticizing that President Lungu has not delivered in terms of infrastructure development; the only thing they are going with now is that there is corruption and tribalism so that they can cause paralysis in the operation of government because they know that if we let this team of men and women under the leadership of President Lungu, they will have no message in 2021.”