By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
The other day, a political commentator observed that the decision by councils around the country to procure earth-moving equipment is ill-conceived. He asserted that this is a white elephant’s project likely to hit a snag any time soon and wondered why ZNS wasn’t simply being empowered with modern equipment or better still, awarded with contracts to work on feeder roads in our communities.
What do we make of this?
It seems we don’t learn from our mistakes as a nation. We are somehow “stiff necked” as legendary musician Bob Marley once put it in one of his songs. This is flabbergasting, indeed!
During the MMD regime for instance, government introduced manda mandas (hearses) from China under controversial circumstances. Are they still of any use to us today? They just worked for a while and vanished in thin air! Before long, we saw the much touted mobile clinics pounding our roads amidst pomp and splendour. They were procured at great cost to the nation. What happened to them? They are now marooned elsewhere waiting to be scrapped off!
And in a case of history ever seeming to repeat itself, the PF regime brought in ambulances and fire tenders at double or tripple the price by conniving with the suppliers. A senior government official actually got fired for dismissing the later as wheelbarrows! They were both acquired at astronomical rates. Where are they today? They’re destined to the scrap yard for one reason or another.
This time around we are witnessing councils trying to outdo each other to procure earth-moving equipment through the constituency development funds.
What is motivating our MPs or councils to go on a frenzy of this mindless spending sprees? Are they driven by the greed to chew commissions or indeed, enthusiasm to roll-out road works in their respective jurisdictions? Have they undertaken the neccesary due diligence viz-a-vis the cost of maintainance or repair? Do they have qualified personnel to undertake the work?
Imagine a council such as Kasama Municipal Council which has gone 9 months without paying its workers acquiring such equipment; wouldn’t they easily succumb to the temptation of diverting money meant for such a project towards salaries and wages?
We already have the Zambia National Service (ZNS) which has been undertaking road construction or maintenance around the country. Instead of the councils acquiring earth moving equipment which is likely to be written off in a matter of time, why can’t the state simply capacitate ZNS to enable them handle this Herculean task as opposed to reinventing the wheel since they already have the neccesary expertise and equipment? Mu Zambia namo!
Local Government Minister Hon. Gary Nkombo and Defense Minister Hon. Ambrose Lufuma, is this something you can consider looking into?