Incompetence on full display, the fiasco with the Head of RDA-Elias Chipimo Jnr

President Michael Sata talks to Zulu Burrow Consultant Engineer Levy Zulu, when the President inspected the Chiawa-Chirundu road construction
President Michael Sata talks to Zulu Burrow Consultant Engineer Levy Zulu, when the President inspected the Chiawa-Chirundu road construction

NATIONAL Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo has questioned the capacity of the Willie Sanda led RDA to execute the ambitious Link 8, 000 Project. In a statement made available to the media Mr Chipimo wondered if RDA will be able to build over 160 kilometres of road every month at an annual cost of K2 billion in order to complete the project in 4 years.

Below is the full statement.


Two days ago the nation witnessed televised scenes of the Republican President reprimanding civil engineering consultant Mr. Levy Zulu of Zulu Burrow for “delays” in implementing the Chirundu phase of the Patriotic Front’s “Link 8,000 Project”. He was in the company of, among others, his former campaign manager and appointee to the Roads Development Agency Board, Willie Nsanda.

It was clear from the President’s outburst that one of 3 things is happening:

(a) Mr. Nsanda as RDA chairperson is completely out of his depth in this sector; or
(b) the President is playing politics due to the severe pressure on him to show progress on his numerous unfulfilled campaign promises; or
(c) both factors are at play. My conclusion is that while the first explanation seems undisputable, the President is feeling the weight of his Party’s rather lethargic first year in office and wants the Link 8,000 Project to be one of his flagship achievements.

If this is really his goal then he is going about it the wrong way. Link 8,000 is a rather ambitious programme to connect the country internally (and also externally) by constructing 8,000 kilometres of road during the next 4 years of the PF administration. To give you some idea of how impossible this task is, when you break down the numbers, you would have to construct over 160 kilometres of road every month: a programme that would cost 2 billion kwacha per annum and probably gobble up all the bitumen production capacity of the entire Southern African region!

The MMD version of Link 8,000 (the so-called Formula 1) involved less than 500 kilometres of road construction and was barely able to be completed within 2 years in spite of the fast pace at which construction took place. But this is really only the beginning of the problem with the PF’s Link 8,000.

The Chirundu road project that the Republican President went to inspect was based on a contract that was awarded only a month ago. The road project itself is a noble and commercially sensible idea. It will provide the fastest route to the Chirundu border and could save up to 40 per cent of the travel time that is currently being experienced between Lusaka and the border. This will drive commercial traffic onto this route because:

(a) time will be saved;
(b) savings in fuel will be very significant; and
(c) there will be reduced wear and tear.

The cost and time implications make this project one that would have been ripe for private sector investment rather than commitment of massive government resources. But let us stick for a moment with the on-screen annoyance of the President who accused the contractor of causing unnecessary delays, threatening to terminate the contract if they did not increase the pace of construction. The normal terms of contract in road projects stipulate that construction should commence one month after the initial deposit has been paid (which is normally 30 days after the contract has been signed). It can take up to 3 months from this initial payment for a contractor to mobilise equipment, secure supplies of crushed stone and import materials like bitumen for the road surface.

In addition, a contractor has to establish camps along the route and prepare a diversion road which may include displacement of existing residents in the affected areas. With mobilisation time expected to take 3 months and with the onset of the rains (when very little road construction can take place) real progress on the new Chirundu road will only begin in April. But this does not highlight a potentially bigger problem – what the road will eventually cost the Zambian taxpayer and the nation at large.

Let us start with how the contract was awarded. It is important to remember that this particular contract was single-sourced. There are 3 types of tenders that are generally issued when it comes to road construction: single source; selective tender; and open tender. It is only in cases of emergency (like the collapse of a vital road for commerce and trade) or in cases where unique specialised services are necessary, that you would opt for single sourcing road construction. Even the last MMD administration with all the allegations of corruption surrounding it, never opted to single-source road construction. Two problems arise with single-sourcing:

(a) lack of transparency; and
(b) lack of competition.

These factors only increase the cost of the construction. What makes matters even worse in this case is that the road has not been costed and was awarded on a presumed unit cost (approximately one million dollars a kilometre).

Awarding a single-source road contract without costing the project presents a possible financial disaster. The road conditions could be so bad (swamps, rocks and stones, steep hills) that the K250 billion budget so far will escalate to twice that sum if not more.

An equally troubling aspect of the Chirundu project is that the road is being paid for entirely by the Zambian government, meaning the PF administration has full say on who gets awarded the contract.

Yet in spite of the many statements that they are concerned about Zambianisation, it is clear that they are not interested in promoting Zambian enterprise. The contract was awarded to China Geo.

This is not to say we should not award contracts to the Chinese or any other nationality for that matter but where there are clear opportunities to promote the emergence of Zambian enterprises, the Government should seize those opportunities.

Awarding a 50 million dollar contract to a foreign entity means that profits will go to that foreign operator. If the contract had been divided in such a way as to involve local enterprises, the profits will be spent right here in Zambia, improving the prospects of new jobs creation.

NAREP is championing an empowerment and employment plan precisely to address this lack of focus and we intend to collect over a million signatures to support our cause. All of this seems to be beyond Mr. Nsanda who has allowed the president to shower threats on a process that cannot go any faster than it already is.

Terminating a contract without proper cause (and there is no proper cause in this case) will result in huge penalties and progress being even slower than it is already. But can we really expect RDA Board Chairman Willie Nsanda to know this?

Being the president’s campaign manager is not a qualification for heading such an important entity responsible for developing our most critical infrastructure. We all expect politicians to reward their cadres but not at the expense of destroying the few clear chances Zambia has to make a major difference in the lives of the people that are facing the constant challenge of load-shedding, lack of access to clean water, poor education, poor or non-existent access to quality healthcare.

Mr. Nsanda is well beyond his depth and must either resign or be fired. As principal advisor to the President he should have advised that the pace of construction is in line with normal construction of a matter of this nature.

A competent board chairman should be appointed (even if this is from the ranks of the PF) and RDA should not be managed by state house. It is impractical (and quite frankly hard to justify) to expect the Republican President or indeed his staff at state house to inspect performance of all the roads in the country to the professional level required to ensure quality and timely delivery.

Once a matter is being handled by state house, few officials will be able to robustly challenge erroneous decision and actions they make – like the tirade we witnessed two nights ago.

Let us for once do the right thing and appoint competent and capable teams to official positions.

Elias C. Chipimo

President, National Restoration Party
31 October 2012


  1. That is full Technical Analysis, and am glad we hav people who
    can critizs technicaly based on what is in the Ground??Willie
    Sanda is a Wrong Chap in RDA!!!

  2. I just love this guy, he speaks sense Chipimo 2016, you have my vote not balya aba citafye condemn fyonse i wont mention the name you all know him

  3. Why do roads cost so much in Zambia? In South Africa, the cost is less than $150,000 per kilometer i.e. 6 times less than Zambia. Something is not adding up here!

  4. well said. I hope the president wont appoint chipimo to oversee a “kama project” in order to have his lips shut.

    • With the Calibre of Politics that Chipimo is displaying,I very much doubt he would fall for an appointment. He left a very Lucrative post to join politics and I am convinced that money is not his motivation :)

    • Its time you stopped using bitter for once! This is is contructive critism. this man is educated abd has it all. He is not a faileed fool like many of you

  5. Most of the comment are mislead by a misleading take by Chipimo. Nsanda has been in office for less than two months and you expect him to have raped his head around the entire road project and started moving mountains already? Lets get serious guys

    • Shouldn’t he have wrapped his head around the road project? What ELSE should he be doing other than the road project? That is what the “R” in RDA stands for, you *****. Having taken RDA to State House makes it even more important for Nsanda to drink, eat and make love to Link 8000 project! Can’t you see, iwe chipumbu cha muntu?

  6. This is the sort of criticism we need in politics. You critisice with well reasoned analyses. Not just saying a ,ot of things which mean nothing. Hats off to Chipimo. Now we need a sensible response from the PF and not what we have just become used to lately – the usual response that the oppostion is bitter. That wont do….

  7. “To give you some idea of how impossible this task is, when you break down the numbers, you would have to construct over 160 kilometres of road every month: a programme that would cost 2 billion kwacha per annum …………..”, This finacial analysis is flawed. Tarring a 1km costs more than one billion. How car tarring 160km per month cost K2billion per yea? NONSENSE!!

    • Yes the cost Analysis is wrong Mr. chipimo, go back to your accountant the math is way out of line..your Intention is good but look at your calculations once more…

    • you misunderstood the reasoning of the 2 Billion. The whole project is supposed to cost 8 Billion (according to the contract). when you put that into four years, it comes to 2 Billion a year. realistically it might cost more than that, but as he said, costing for the project was not yet done when these numbers, wrong as they may be, were arrived at.

  8. I am disappointed with Chipimo, yes well said. But, HH was the first to raise all these issues and Chipimo and Nawakwi said we should give Sata chance. Today, he wants to show us that he has thought about this. This is clear hypocrisy. Have a firm stand and people will support you. For now, HH scored this point in the previous months when you were a darling to the cobra.

  9. At last Elias. Thank you. Now please also challenge the apoointment of the likes of Charlie Sex to the Zesco Board. The utility provider is also a very important entity to the development of the country.

  10. I can acknowledge Chipimo Jr.’s well articulated article and it is good. Let us all provide checks and balances to this government. PF is capable of destrying Zambia. So, for us in the civil service, we pledge to work with the Opposition of the Day to provide criticle information. Just like we provided Sata and the Post with information before, we shall continue to do so with UPND and other media houses.

  11. As a civil servant myself, I will work hard to get this information out where I smell corruption in government. We have power as civil servants to change governments by providing information to opposiotion about government dealings.

  12. Chipimo Jnr is also just playing politics. Did he see the contract signed with the contractor? I doubt it.  Plus why criticise Willie Nsanda who just recently got appointed and needs to be given time to perform just like any normal person.  The president is also experienced in project management and has every right to blast the contractor if he has delayed as stipulated in the contract. Lets not just criticse anyhow and give people a chance to perform first of all. 

  13. CHIPIMO is just jealous of NAWAKWI that she has been appointed to Chair the massive Muchinga province biofules investment. CHIPIMO thinks by writing this article which largely blames Nsanda instead of Sata, then Sata might give him the job to replace Nsanda. But, only his fellow Bemba dullards can be cheated here, ourselves have already seen the game that he is playing. I’m not PF supporter, but I feel it is unfair to blame Nsanda who started working at RDA only one or two weeks ago. How could Nsanda produce miracles in such a short period? Secondly, how can you blame Nsanda for beiong appointed to a job he has no skills for. PLEASE BLAME SATA! But Chipimo is just a job-seeker, that’s why he won’t blame Sata. He comes here wanting to sound intelligent blaming the wrong guy! Its’ Cheap!

    • I thought Chipimo
      ‘s writing was quite spot on…good arguments, however your thinking also boards on a lucid path…nice to see both you and Chipimo thinking, there is hope for Zambia after all when her young ones can exhibit such level of critic…

  14. What Elias Chipimo Junior has said is what we were telling you two nights ago you Problems Forever party.You were insulted and labelled us as bitter losers yet some of us are non partisan but technical people who have worked in road construction before both in Zambia and within its neighbours. Please Mr Sata Sir we love and respect you as head of state of our beautiful country Zambia whatever happens we will remain Zambians.Remove RDA from state house and immediately let a technical person head that department not a transporter.How will Mr Nsanda read and understands the construction drawings or plan.For the sake of our money and country its never too late to rescind your unthought decision.You are the same Sata of 1980s age has caught with you sir this task will tire up so fast.

  15. Chipimo Jnr has mixed facts and fiction.. It is a fact Willie is the wrong man for the job .. but he is just being appointed anyway.. On costing, K2 billion can only do 10km max as per proper high/motor-way spec… This is a political article and not technical/commercial analysis… but in Zambia an article like this will get you a cabinet appoitment…

  16. ichi-chipula-chair?

    “But, only his fellow Bemba dullards can be cheated here”

    Question: Why do you harbour so much hatred for our tribe? 

  17. All want to see are good quality roads criss-crossing the length and breath of Zambia. Wether it costs you your teeth and nails I don’t care. I will be happy if in 4 years we can achieve even 70% of 8000 km. Mr Chipimo, thanx for your input. But assuming we have 5 road projects going on at the same time, is it not possible to construct at least 80km of road/month? Right about the rains. I am in a hurry to see a better Zambia!

  18. Of course, do you expect anything sensible from Sata and his people. This is a bunch of ignorant people who have no clue on how to run a country.

  19. Personally i think Sata did the right thing to inspect the roads. The president cannot go to the site without proper information and consultation. They must be constructors that spoke to the president about how slow the project was going, So the president had to keep them on their toes. For Chipimo to say its not possible to create 8000 roads in 4 years, to me i see that if this guy was to be in power Zambia would develop very slowly like during the time of RB. In Australia roads that take in Zambia weeks in Australia it takes them one night. If they are able to do it in Australia why would it not be possible in Zambia. Taking for example roads that are worked on in Suburbs in Zambia they take weeks in Australia you see them start their work at 19.00hrs tomorrow 05.00 hrs the road is done.

  20. And we wonder why we never have the best roads in Africa…So this was single sourced? That’s the reason why  I was wondering when the bids were invited and when the tender for this project was awarded since the Link project was launched about a month ago.Willie and State House will bring nothing BUT confusion and controversy to the table; no professional would want to work under such circumstances. If Sata appointed a construction professional the appointee would have saved the him the embarrassment by advising him before he visited the site…serves him right!!
    This is going to be another costly wasted opportunity for our poor country.  

  21. I appreciate the president’s impromptu site visit. That’s the way to go boss. Though, regarding short comings of the project, the back squarely falls on MCS. He needs a complete day to review the entire structure of RDA whether it is well posed to meet the challenges of road infrastructure development in Zambia.
    Sata has one great gift and strength, he likes erecting infrastructure. Certainly, he will leave admirable public infrastructure after his legacy. But the problem is his management style. Ba Nsanda should be redeployed and should not chair RDA at all. Its too sensitive to be under his supervision. Its beyond his capability, caliber, character, stamina etc. Well observed NAREP. Thanks for this critique.

  22. Chipimo has no idea about construction, having excuses for a contractor in construction is the sign  of lack of knowledge about construction industry. We have seen so many contractors who have been on the same site for months with nothing to show but end up getting paid and when asked if they had fulfilled their contract they give the same excuses Chipimo is trying to justify before they disappear. If a company is not ready, it should not bid for a job! We had Phoenix construction, it never took them more than a week to mobilize when they got a contract. RDA had become to corrupt, they were giving contracts to people with no equipment for road construction, good example BY.

    • You say “we had Phoenix construction” – no longer exists? If they were so efficient, they should have been prospering, right?

  23. Just look at the picture! They are all malnourished with pronounced tummies…..a symptom of marasmus! The PF is a government of criminals and half literate buffoons. The country is simply going backwards. Zambia needs an enlightened National government not a pack of tribalist dimwits. Transferring the operations of RDA to State House is just a conduit for criminality!

  24. Talk is cheap, wants short cut to state house.hopeless, bring in HH.This whole project is not viable, will be left half done. Zambians are not capable.

  25. Why does Sata feel he has to direct every little thing as if he has no ministers?What is the job of works minister,the PS and other underlings? Transferring RDA under his wings at plot 1 is a sign of a micro manager,an insecure person or a sign of dictatorial instincts. Woe unto zed coz the way things are going with Sata its like 2016 can’t come quick enough.Throw this bum outta state hse.

  26. Holy sh******t! they are sooooooooo ugly! are all zedian men this ugly? please do something about your health pipo, accept the presdo, i dont dis respect.

  27. Chipimo: arm-chair critic. Have you never head of the Marshall plan after the war, the recostruction after the nuclear accidents in the former Soviet Union, or even the most recent one one in Japan? Major works can be, and have been, successfully carried out where there’s will and determination, driven by prioritised policies.

  28. Mwandi chipi expose these fools. Nsanda kaponya wapa kmb. Probably a part of jerabo. He can’t even finish a sentence in English . Ati RDA director. Atase! 

  29. Can someone sum up this statement. Its too long a rumbling. Make it short and sweet. Even a long love making session can be tedius

  30. If you can not beat us you better join us. This guy thought he would be given a job by keeping quiet. Now, he has realised that ooops there is not job for him and he is becoming bitter! hahaha! Aanother CNP or Kolwestan!! VIVA HH cause you saw this even before so many of us saw it. HH is the man!!!!

  31. What does Chipimo want to RESTORE from this ambitious 8000 link project? Whats wrong to be ambitious and not to achieve it anyway?
    CHIPIMO your ambition to be president is as ambitious as Sata’s projects… Dreams. If Elias want to be president then he should hire Zulu Barrow as a political adviser.

  32. chipimo is going astray,those of you if you read critically his analysis you will see alot of errors.cant see much of sense in his article

  33. I can see how tribal Zambians are. Very few demeaning words or insults for Chipimo becoz most bloggers here are from the north. If it was HH making the comments he would have been showered with unprintables which still find they way on LT. 






  35. MMD never built any new significant roads. All major linkage roads we have were left by UNIP. PF is on the right track by being ambitious with the Link Zambia 8000. You’ve got to be Zambitious guys. Phoenix contractors were quick and adept at their work. MMD govt was failing to pay phoenix contractors their money. Phoenix worked too much for nkongole and so they shipped their equipment across Tanganyika to Rwanda!

  36. Chipimo is just bitter. Bitterness will kill you mr chipimo, just accept that your friend nawakwi was given a job. Let me remind you that your friend nawakwi has bottom power.

  37. The Serpent Cobra Ukwa Sata CNP showed how ignorant he is on road contracts. Chipimo has given insight and i agree with having awarded road contracts before. Have highly qualified engineers at RDA but politics let them down. Imagine Serpent Cobra Ukwa Sata CNP as a lead engineer with his unknown education background confirmed by his wife Mama G Kaseba in yesterdays’ POST newspaper. Its a shame and the Serpent need to know that his exhibiting his dullness on issues of national interest. Does he have advisors to show him light? Chamanyazi kwambiri having such a kwangala as a head of state.

  38. Sata has been tried and tested during the one year pf has been in power and the results point to a sad conclusion that Sata is not up to the job to deliver any meaningful development to the Zambian people, Sata from day one was only interested in becoming the president in name and the benefits that come with it hence fake promises. Sata has failed lamentably and he knows that. Am just happy that we gave the old man a chance to ruin his own reputation other wise the world would have been fooled to think he was a HERO had he died without been president. now the truth is out there for any one with eyes to see.

  39. If only Chipimo you can show a bit of consistency you input in the political destiny of this country can add real value such as you you have well articulated but alas you are always contradicting yourself when it favors you

  40. The subject is:why is it so expensive to construct just a kilometer here in Zambia?Does the president got a road plan of this Chirundu road?The Government of the minorit for the tribelists by bootlickers.Chipimo,do u expect Nsanda in black shade to give sound advise to CNP?Anyway,Mr man lobby for a job,Nawakwi has one already… the way..Chipimo,you have not said anything about the Brazil trip…Iam interested how it was mundeke..the server of water is rewarded.what were you doing in that Economy class?


  42. Even 3000 km once done will add a lot of value and uplift the living standards of the people where the roads will be done. The picture in the story is showing virgin bush where the road is being done. People of Zambia open your eyes and embrace new development. have you forgotten how you were dribbled by the thieving MMD? Chipimo and his cousing from In’gombe Illede clan have nothng but empty ambitions. The would have made sense in politics if and only if they had held any political office at any level. You just can’t wake up and say you want to be President of a country, TAKWABA.

  43. The attack on Nsanda’s suitability by NAREP is misplaced and ignorant. Nsanda is providing total leadership of RDA. At that policy level, technical know-how would have just been “added advantage”.

  44. You do not need to be a Technocrat to be a Board Chairman, Ubukopo ba Lawyer. The MD is the Technocrat and secretary to the Board. Other members may be Technocrats too but not all of them.

  45. just an advise to those who think Chipimo is looking for a job. Well, those are you thoughts but be rest assured, the man has already made his money through his Law Firm and he will not reduce himself to that. You can’t even compare him to Nawakwi. So please say something else. Otherwise his observation is very much spot on. Let’s all face reality.

  46. to start with,8000kms of road works his highly ambitious and nothing wrong with Sata being ambitious except what Chipimo refers to:Sata has to be genuine about it and appoint the right people.800kms practically means going to Ndola from Lusaka 20 times.Indeed,it’s true Joe Mulenga Sata was a shareholder in Zulu Burrow,so one wonders why Sata single sourced this contract to this firm.I understand the project pitfalls Chipimo refers to but these risks can be quantified further and addressed if you have proper expertise on the job.I do not see the Chinese contrators applying proper technology to quickly expedite the work within four years,Chinese are labour intensive but a road [roject like this needs proper application of techknology so works can be expedited quickly and efficiently!!

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