Works on the Mongu-Kalabo road to resume
Works on the Mongu-Kalabo road will resume when the water levels in the plain subsides.
Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao said the road is in a low-lying area which makes it very difficult to do construction works.
Mr Yuxiao said in an interview that the Chinese government is eager to see the road constructed as it will open up the western part of Zambia to trade and other economic activity.
“I am as anxious as everyone to see the road constructed but this is a special road which requires attention. The construction of the road can only resume once the water levels have completely subsided. Only then can the contractor move back on site,” he said.
He said the contractor should be given time to ensure a good quality road is constructed.
Mr Yuxiao said the PF Government has requested for the construction of various roads and airports in the country and initial studies for the construction of airports are underway.
He said a technical group has been constituted to make recommendations on the request.
“The new government has made requests for China to engage in the construction of roads and airports. The Chinese government responded very quickly by sending a technical group last month to do its initial studies on the matter,” he said.
He said the Chinese government will continue to work closely with Zambia to enhance development.
A Kalabo resident talked to today said there isn’t a lot of water this year and is hopeful road works will resume promptly.
The K1.25 trillion Mongu-Kalabo road project hang in a balance last year when the PF Government decided to review the project to ascertain whether it was the best way of connecting the two districts.
The Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication at the time said if such large amounts of money were to be spent on one project, Government wanted to ensure that the road could stand the test of time and will not need constant repairs.
In 1966 the Government of the Zambia decided to construct a road that would connect the country to the neighbouring countries of Congo DR and Angola
but it was only in 2002 that a contract between Government and Consolidated Contractors Company of Kuwait was signed to construct the 74 kilometre bituminous road between Mongu and Kalabo at a contact sum of US$39.7 million,
However during the 2003/2004 rainy season, high floods were experienced, which caused some sections of the embankment and a number of culverts on the 34 kilometre stretch of the flood plains to be washed away.This led to the Kuwaiti contractor, Consolidated Contracting Company, which had finished the phase of the project at US$25 million, to abandon the project.
In 2010 AVIS International Holding Corporation, a Chinese was firm awarded a contract to upgrade Mongu-Kalabo Road at a cost of K1.25 trillion
On average the cost of building a tarred road in the rest of the country is K5 billion per kilometre. The Mongu-Kalabo road, because of the complicated terrain, will cost K60 billion per kilometre.
The distance between Mongu, the provincial capital of Western Province, and Kalabo is a paltry 74 kilometres which in comparison makes distance from Lusaka to Kabwe or Mazabuka longer than the one between Kalabo and Mongu. However it is the district having the shortest distance to Mongu, in Zambia’s Western Province.
The people of Mongu and Kalabo have since time immemorial depended on water transport, mostly canoes and banana boats because what is currently called a road is nothing but a stretch of sand dunes.
The Mongu-Kalabo road will link the two towns to neighbouring Angola and this would open up trade between Zambia and Angola.