Minister of Transport and Communications Mutotwe Kafwaya says government is reviewing the concession made between the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and Intelligent Mobility Solutions (IMS) Limited, admitting that complaints about speed camera fines being too high were genuine.

And Kafwaya says the launch of the national airline has reached the third and critical stage where final inspections are being made by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Speaking on a Pan African radio programme dubbed: “Government issues” Kafwaya said the issues raised among citizens on the concession agreement signed between RTSA and IMS were in fact legitimate, adding that the agreement was being reviewed.

“The concession you made reference to is something I became aware of long time ago. This concession has been debated. I think the issues that the people have been bringing about are legitimate. Now, if they are legitimate what do we need to do as government? We need to look at those particular issues that are contentious and be able to access them; is that happening? I can assure that, yes, it is happening. The concession is under review right now,” Kafwaya revealed.

“We’re actively looking at what the result of the review would be, and for me, the result of the review must benefit the Zambian people as well us business in general, isn’t it? The review will be focusing on the specific issues that have been raised by the Zambian people, but in the end, we must understand that business must be promoted and in promoting business it is that business, which supports the Zambian people.”

He said a foreign company was brought in to improve competitiveness among Zambian business owners who he said were yet to meet the capacity.

“Business, in my view, should be competitive. When you promote competitiveness in business, it trickles down to the people. Now, if a foreigner is more competitive than a Zambian, we must find a way of building capacity in a Zambian so that a Zambian can also become competitive so they compete. The Zambian must be promoted, isn’t it? What level are we as a nation? We base examples of Zambians that have been given jobs for which they don’t even have capacity to do, the same job you give it to a Chinese it is done in three months, but a Zambian fails to do it in three years! So that time should come when we, as a country should rely more on the Zambian people, isn’t it? But are we at that stage yet? I think the Zambian people should be able to answer that,” he said.

“And IMS, as I have been informed is a local company, that is what I have been informed. However, that does not justify that all the issues people complain about are okay, no! Even a local company like IMS can enter into a contract that is unfair and when that contract is unfair, that contract should be looked at; this is why I am looking at that. Government in its entirety should be looked at because we have complained, not just people, even parliamentarians. So, we are actively looking at that and the review is something I will be able to communicate with the public.”

And Kafwaya announced that the launch of the much-hyped national airline had reached the third and critical stage where final inspections were being made.

“At the moment, we have put a number of things in place, what is remaining is the final certificate from the CAA; it is currently doing the final inspections so that they give us this certificate; once they give us this certificate, we will be ready to launch. For those who want us to see us in the air, the question that follows is when? I am afraid that is not in my control because the CAA has to do its certifications, and its certification has to be done through its various important stages and this includes checking the aircraft; assessing safety features; assessing skills; assessing capabilities and they will do even some kind of a test flight whether we as Zambians are capable of taking off and landing…we say these are safety issues and that we need comply to,” Kafwaya explained.

“So, that certification process is going; once it is completed, we will be able to set a date for launching. I must say this is a five-stage process and at the moment, we are at stage number three and I have been informed that this is the most critical stage; once we go through this stage, we will be able to go through the last stages and then we will able to go. Why don’t I have the date? The process (of) the final certification from CAA is something I can’t determine when it will come to a completion because we have to leave the CAA to undertake its process without interference.”

He pledged that government would not interfere with date of the launching of the national airline.

“The world is looking at what we are doing in preparing Zambia Airways to take off! And safety in aviation is something that cannot be taken for granted because planes don’t land in the air! They never do, so we have to be very meticulous the way we do this assessment and CAA has to do that. Suppose there is a bit of back and forth within CAA and Zambia Airways in terms of refining the issues that need to be done prior to that launch, they have to do it without anybody interfering and this is my position and this is government’s position. We have to make sure that CAA is satisfied that Zambia Airways has the features to fly,” stressed Kafwaya.