A bridge constructed on Alick Nkhata Road in Lusaka has brought controversy. When driving on this bridge from either direction, it’s like a car climbs up the hill and falls off on the other side because of the steep slope. To put it into perspective, when driving down the bridge, it makes your stomach feel like you are on a free falling elevator. As your ‘drop’ down the bridge, if you don’t apply emergency breaks, you are likely to ram into the round about which is just a few meters away on both ends, or you may hit into cars that are joining the round about.
So Ministry of Local Government Permanent Secretary Bishop Eddie Dr Chomba declared that the newly constructed Alick Nkhata Road bridge should be demolished on the ground that it is a death trap. But as soon as he made this announcement, his boss Charles Banda swung into action to save the government’s image from the humiliating development.
“I would like to say with deep regret that the statement made by the Permanent Secretary is not from the Ministry of Local Government and it’s not a ministerial statement, neither is it government position that the bridge is going to be demolished because we have not found any engineering reason why the bridge should be brought down. That bridge was sanctioned and approved by the RDA, not the Ministry of Local Government. They have competent engineers who did the advice and did the certification up to this far and I would like you to know that there has not been any engineering report suggesting that the bridge could be a death trap. I did have a meeting with my PS (Chomba) this morning to find out what exactly could have happened. That was his personal opinion, that’s how he looked at the issue himself. We would like to apologise particularly to the Head of State for the embarrassment that we could have caused as Ministry of Local Government for that statement which is not a representation of the government,” said Dr Banda.
We beg to differ with the Minister of Local Government. The reason why he is disowning his Permanent Secretary is because demolishing the bridge would be very embarrassing to government. The minister can’t allow a demolition of the bridge because his ministry joined the President of Lusaka at the official opening of the road and they were excited to cut ribbons. He knows in his heart that Bishop Dr Chomba has a valid point. If Dr Banda has driven on that bridge and his brain can’t register anything wrong, then maybe the demolition should be extended to his faculties because it means there is something wrong up there.
In our view, Dr Banda should have actually waited to hear from experts at the Engineering Institution of Zambia before tendering his apology to the President because when the EIZ concurs with Bishop Dr Chomba, it is him who will now look stupid while his PS will be a hero. In fact, the minister will be exposed as a bootlicker, desperate to appease the President.
And by the way, can Dr Banda tell us why he was apologizing to the President as if the bridge was constructed by State House? Is it Edgar Lungu who built the bridge? How is he involved to deserve an apology over Chomba’s remarks?
Look, despite his fake double PhD from Trinity College of Oxford University, Bishop Dr Chomba is right about that bridge and many motorists agree with his “personal opinion”.
We have difficulties believing that the Permanent Secretary just woke up and decided to say something preposterous to embarrass the President. Bishop Dr Chomba must have discussed this matter with some technocrats under him in the ministry before he issued that statement and when he did, he spoke on behalf of the people who have complained about that bridge. So people must be held accountable.
These Chinese projects are not being constructed for free, they are funded by loans. This is all part of the infrastructure loans that the Chinese are lending to this country and this money will have to be paid back by the Zambian taxpayer. This is not Charles Banda’s money for him to stop people from complaining or to false an abnormality on motorists.
That fly over bridge can kill people, and before it does, qestions must be asked. Was the Ministry of Local Government consulted? If yes, where were they all this time? If the Lusaka City Council is saying they were not consulted, who, then approved the construction of that project? If the approval was given by RDA, does that mean that LCC and RDA work in isolation? Who gave the approval for the closure of the road at the time that bridge was being constructed?
These questions must be answered because this is the same confusion and inconvenience motorists were subjected to over traffic lights at Lusaka Golf Club on Los Angels Boulevard, which were erected by the Road Development Agency and LCC later ordered their removal on grounds that they were not consulted.
So it is sad that Bishop Dr Chomba’s ministry and the LCC were seeing the bridge take shape and they sat on their behinds waiting for it to finish so that they can demolish it. But our point is that if Bishop Chomba who has fake qualifications can see that there is a problem with that bridge, where were the engineering experts who approved that design and bridge?