Concerned senior citizens of Eastern Province have demanded that Infrastructure, Housing, and Urban Development Minister Charles Milupi apologizes to the people of Eastern Province over his recent remarks on the eastern province road network.
Speaking at a media briefing on behalf of the senior citizens, major Francis Kamanga said that Easterners are agitated by Mr. Milupi’s insensitive remarks on the already procured roads and has appealed to president Hichilema to look into the matter and ensure that the roads that have already been procured are built.
Major Kamanga who is also former Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Permanent Secretary under the late president Michael Sata said that it is difficult to comprehend why the minister would opt to adopt such an antagonistic stance over the roads president Hichilema promised would be built when the UPND forms government.
Major Kamanga stated that equitable distribution should be a fundamental pillar of any well-intentioned government and as such, the senior citizens and people of Eastern province in general regard the minister’s position as deliberately misleading and not representing what the people of eastern province expect and deserve.
Major Kamanga said that Eastern province contributes to the country’s gross domestic product [GDP] through agriculture hence all roads are viable stressing that farmers require a good road network to access the market for their produce.
Another Senior Citizen Lameck Mangani has reminded the UPND alliance government that failure by the PF regime to work on the same roads won them votes in the August 12th polls hence Mr. Milupi’s statement has not been well received.
Meanwhile, lieutenant colonel Bizwayo Nkunika has cautioned the government not to use the public-private partnership model to suppress development in some parts of the country saying resources should be distributed equally across the country.
However, Mr. Milupi did clarify earlier this week that every road is important, but ranked differently in a statement posted on his Facebook page. Below is the full statement
EACH AND EVERY ROAD IS ECONOMICALLY VIABLE AND IMPORTANT BUT RANKED DIFFERENTLY
Allow me, in the first place, to thank Fr Evans Miti of the Catholic Diocese of Chipata, and the good people of Chipata, Chadiza and Vubwi districts in the Eastern Province, for having keenly followed our recent inspection tour of roads and other public infrastructure in three provinces of our country.
For us to undertake that inspection tour, it is confirmation of the seriousness we attach to addressing the bad state of our roads and other public infrastructure countrywide. We had to see for ourselves so that when we start devising ways to address the deplorable state of our road network, we do so from a well-informed position.
We, therefore, note with great appreciation, the concerns raised by our fellow citizens following our remarks about the ‘viability’ of the Chipata-Vubwi Road. Let me state here that all roads contribute to the growth of the country’s economy, hence economically viable.
However, in the area of road sector management, there is what is referred to as the core road network, which the New Dawn administration will work on using the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Model. Chipata-Vubwi Road is an economically-viable road but it is not commercially-viable in so far as inclusion on the list of roads to be done through the PPP Model is concerned. We were speaking from the context of the PPP Model vis-a-vis management of the core and feeder road network.
To this end, describing a road as not being commercially-viable within the context of the PPP Model, is not the same as saying that road is not going to be worked on or less important. The Chipata-Vubwi Road, and any other road falling within that category, will definitely be worked on by your government as a matter of economic necessity. We note that, sadly, this important road project was procured in 2011 under the Link Zambia 8000 Road Project but it has remained in a deplorable state all these years. It is our public duty to do the needful and work on that economically-viable road. Thanks so much.