Minister of Infrastructure, Housing, and Urban Development Charles Milupi has clarified that the Lusaka-Ndola dual-carriageway will be operated by Macro Oceans Investment Limited for 22 years, not 25 years as earlier reported. The recently signed US$577 million concession agreement under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) procurement model will cover a three-year construction period, after which Macro Oceans Investment Limited will operate the road for 22 years.
In response to criticism of the project, Minister Milupi stated, “The Lusaka-Ndola dual-carriageway project is a critical infrastructure development project that will transform the transport sector in Zambia. The government has opted for the PPP model to address the challenges of inadequate funding and capacity in the public sector to deliver the project within the required timeframe.”
However, concerns have been raised about the involvement of Chinese-owned state enterprises in the project, as well as the use of public pension funds as intermediaries. Ambassador Emmanuel Mwamba expressed concern about the use of National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and Workers Compensation Fund Board (WCFB) as conduits for the project, stating, “This is NOT a Public-Private-Partnership project but a raiding and plunder of public pension funds using pension funds as intermediaries of the plunder.”
Socialist Party President Fred M’embe also questioned the project’s viability, stating, “Before we joyfully celebrate this project, we have to ask what the weighted average cost of a trip between Lusaka and Ndola and vice versa will be for each vehicle. Can the government kindly avail these details to the public to prepare us for how much the toll cost will be per trip? This is critical information, which for transparency and planning purposes we need to know in order to make informed decisions.”
Despite the criticism, the construction of the Lusaka-Ndola dual-carriageway and Luanshya-Fisenge-Masangano road is expected to contribute to the development of the country’s infrastructure and support economic growth. The feasibility studies have shown that the road could raise up to US$100 million per year in tolls and user fees.
The Zambian government needs to provide transparency and clarity on the project’s funding model and toll fees for road users to make informed decisions. Minister Milupi has assured the public that the government is committed to ensuring that the project is delivered transparently and in the best interest of the Zambian people.