“Today, we are commissioning the completion of Makeni flyover, which is part of the four fly-over bridges to be constructed under this project… Infrastructure development is a critical catalyst to enhanced economic growth, and, therefore, my government will continue to invest in infrastructure, such as roads, schools, hospitals and many other such infrastructure. I have heard some sections of our people arguing that they cannot eat roads and as such, the government should not invest so much in infrastructure…To the contrary, provision of essential infrastructure is key to unlocking the economic potential of our country resulting in many benefits for our people,” said President Edgar Lungu, Monday, adding that: “Apart from infrastructure development, my government is determined to create various jobs, especially for the growing youth population.”
We agree with President Lungu on infrastructure, but we disagree on job-creation. “Job creation” is the polite expression for “lies” in the PF government, but that is a story for another day, along with defined COVID-19 rules on that note. Today, we would like to talk about infrastructure development under the PF government. Despite the many problems that Zambia currently faces as a consequence of poor leadership, it is important to give credit where it is due. On infrastructure, particularly road development, our opinion is that the Patriotic Front government leaders should be allowed to walk with their heads high. Some of our readers, especially the critics of this government, will disagree with our view, arguing about “the cost at which this so-called development is coming.”
Others will disagree saying the overpass highways that President Lungu is bragging about are outdated or poor quality, compared to what other countries in the region are building. But Bembas say: “ushitasha patunono, napafingi takatashe” (meaning he who doesn’t show gratitude on small things will never appreciate big things). We are here to appreciate the little, if a little is all we can get from this government.
In October, 2018, we wrote an editorial opinion where we stated that every now and then, we find ourselves faced with the responsibility of looking around to identify at least something that the Patriotic Front government is doing well; something that deserves recognition. This, we said, is not an easy job because almost every positive development coming out of our government is a by-product of corruption. One such area where we have seen tremendous development is the road infrastructure. Like we stated in 2018, we are fully aware of the fact that this is the sector where corruption is manufactured, and so we are here to only talk about the resulting by-product of that corruption.
In Lusaka, the urban roads development programme has actually brought about a new face of the city. There is a valid question about how the designs for these overpass roads on the major roundabouts will significantly decrease traffic, but that is an issue for civil engineers to debate. Like Malawian singer, Namadingo, said in his song (Ma plan), “Otsusa boma samalephela ma damage” loosely translated as opposition will oppose everything. The truth is that the work has been seen by everyone and when we walk or drive on these roads in Lusaka, most of which have been upgraded to dual-carriageway, we know it in our hearts, all of us who are disgusted by the Patriotic Front’s criminality, that while they are stealing, at least they are leaving a few good remarkable projects. Therefore, it is only in order to thank both the Zambian government and the people of India on the Lusaka City Decongestion Project that President Lungu is commissioning.
On roads, the PF has delivered. Despite some of them being weak and vulnerable to heavy rains, roads have been built by this regime more than under Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and even Rupiah Banda’s governments combined. The downside is that Zambians will have to pay through the nose to settle the debt accrued for the construction of these roads we are seeing because almost all of them are overpriced, while the rest have little or no economic benefit. In other words, what we are saying is that, because of this ‘unprioritised’ infrastructure development agenda under the road sector, Zambia is in bigger problems than it was during the Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda administrations combined.
However, we are still grateful because even a judge rewards a convicted criminal with leniency in mitigation. We are happily sad for the good roads you are making ba Pompwe!