FORMER transport, works and supply minister Yamfwa Mukanga says the K4.5 million released by government to fix potholes is a drop in the ocean.
In an interview, Mukanga said government needed to allocate more money to road maintenance, as most bad roads needed resurfacing.
“It is a drop in the ocean, RDA cannot do anything with it. They will not be able to achieve what is supposed to be done. I travelled to Luapula and I wouldn’t even understand how we can have a main road like that in Zambia. In the last few months, the road has deteriorated to an extent where it is hardly passable. Now, when you are given K4 million, it will be very difficult for them to set top priorities on what to do. We need a big injection in terms of road maintenance otherwise I see a situation where these roads will deteriorate to extremes where we cannot even maintain them. I think government should be able to allocate a lot of money to road maintenance. With the number of accidents that we are having, it should be taken very seriously because we cannot continue to lose lives like that. Lives are valuable, if you lose them, we cannot replace them,” Mukanga said.
“Pothole mending is not a project you can talk about. What we need are sustainable projects because some of the roads have reached the end of their span. And because of that, if the foundation has failed, even if they patch the potholes, nothing can happen. What is required is resurfacing most of those roads which are bad. So, to do that, we need more money and that is what the government should be aiming at, not pot-hole mending, no. Pothole mending is just supposed to be a project they can give to the youths.”
Mukanga also called on government to come up with a “Plan B” whilst waiting to activate some Private Public Partnerships on the Great North Road.
“The Great North Road is terrible, in fact, most of the accidents are happening on that road. And I think it also needs to be addressed. They (government) have a big job to do, but they have to do it, they are the people in the driving seat. We want to see things done so that Zambians are safe because it is now almost difficult for somebody to plan to travel from one place to another because they don’t know how safe it is. While they are thinking of Private Public Partnership, they should have another plan b. There are a lot of discussions that take place when engaging with the PPPs, it is not easy. So, we need people to be safe now and not tomorrow. So, I would urge the government to move fast so that we can get results,” said Mukanga.