MINISTER of Transport and Logistics Frank Tayali says the $110,782,500 speed camera contract did not yield its intended results because known individuals from the PF regime schemed to personally benefit from it.
And Tayali says government intends to introduce an amendment bill in Parliament which will curtail corruption in the payment of speed fines.
Responding to Nkana independent member of Parliament Binwell Mpundu who wanted to find out how the installed security cameras would be used to monitor speed, Wednesday, Tayali said the Ministry of Home Affairs had embarked on the development of the Safe City project intended to curb crime and the same could also be used to monitor speed.
“The Ministry for Home Affairs has embarked on the development of the Safe City project which is intended to curb crime for the enhancement of national security. These cameras also have a module that we can utilise to manage speed limits in terms of adherence. In short, it will cover both. This project is no longer in existence. Barely a short period after it was implemented, it was curtailed. There were obvious things that came out that brought out the fact that there were known individuals who had schemed to personally benefit from such a project as opposed to the government realising the necessary revenues,” he said.
“Certain factors immediately came out in terms of its contradiction to the legislative provisions which govern collection of funds and even the use of the obvious data in terms of subscribing a private company to have access to details of motorists. This was in conflict with the law. Learned Solicitor General, State Counsel Abraham Mwansa at the time, had rendered a serious legal opinion which immediately raised the issues and brought out the fact that yes, there was an element of fraud in such a project. That is why it could not continue.”
Tayali said the Safe City project intended to use cameras which were left behind by IMS as well as the overhead cameras which had been mounted for security surveillance.
“That system that prevailed at the time of the failed IMS project indeed did contribute to high levels of corruption where hefty fines would be avoided and that infringing motorists would bribe law enforcement officers. As a new dawn administration, we have put most of these issues into consideration. What we are doing is that we intend to actually bring in an amendment bill that will take into account a reasonable payment system depending on how many points above the speed limits that would attract specific fines [and] depending on which extent they are contravening. The Ministry of Home Affairs is developing a safe city project, which intends to use not only the cameras that were left behind by the IMS project but also the overhead cameras that had been put for surveillance on innocent citizens,” he said.
“Once this is done, we intend to have good coverage of much of the country. We can bring the much-needed speed controls into effect. I think that it will be very important that once this project comes to the implementation stage, we shall need a robust sensitisation programme, both on electronic and other forms of media including billboards to sensitise people that the cameras are working and that we shall strictly follow the guidelines in terms of speed limits and that no one would escape over speeding. I think that in the current state of our roads, overspeeding is a major cause of accidents. Therefore whatever project we shall embark on, shall be to safeguard the lives of our valuable citizens.”
Tayali insisted that the Safe City project incorporated a speed management module.
“The total contract sum for the installation of the speed cameras was $110,782,500. Between July 2018 and March 2019, when the project was under implementation, three districts namely; Lusaka, Kafue and Chisamba benefited from the project. The project had a positive impact on road safety as evidenced by the high compliance levels to speed limits that were observed on Lusaka roads. The speed cameras are no longer operational following the termination of the concession agreement on 20th October, 2020. The concession agreement was terminated on the basis that no party was at fault and therefore there were no further costs to be incurred by either party,” he said.
“The termination of the concession agreement marked the end of the IMS project. In terms of the way forward for the speed management in Zambia, the Ministry for Home Affairs has developed the safe city project which intends to curb crime and enhance national security. The safe city project incorporates a speed management module and is the future of speed management in Zambia. The Road Transport and Safety Agency is working closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Zambia police to operationalise the speed management module of the safe city project.”
Tayali said the initial speed camera project did not have the blessings of the Constitution.
“It indeed makes sad reading the events that characterised this particular project. On one hand, within the previous administration, authority had been given that this project may proceed. It was given due clearance by certain constitutional officeholders. One other office was able to challenge and said whatever had taken place was ultra vires the constitution. In the particular legal opinion by then Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa, he did point out that certain issues needed to have been dealt with. Either a statutory instrument was required to prescribe the procedure contained in the public notice issued by RTSA for dealing with traffic offences captured by speed cameras,” said Tayali.
“Secondly, to provide for the electronic Zambia transport information system of vehicles in respect of when fines are not paid within seven days from the date of notification of traffic offences. What certain nationals in the previous administration attempted to do was to avoid certain legislative provisions. Issues such as being able to, out of traffic offences to collect revenue and that revenue would go into a private account contrary to legal provisions. It is only in control 99 where such revenue should be going. They allowed a private company working purportedly under a PPP project to have access to an information database regarding citizens of this nation that own motor vehicles. This was a challenge and that is why this project failed. It did not have blessings of the constitution.”