“Opportunities for infrastructure development in Zambia are plenty, with opportunities in infrastructure, tourism and energy. With increased mining activity, we have also had a tax windfall of close to $1-billion.
“A lot of this money will be used in infrastructure development, and there is plenty of opportunity for contractors and consultants to carry out work in Zambia. While there is a heavy workload in South Africa, in view of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we are also short of labour in Zambia, and need help in this regard,” he noted.
The road works programme is a ten-year initiative set to run from 2003 to 2013, with an unfixed budget of $1,6- billion. The programme is designed to improve the internal roads infrastructure in Zambia, and allow easier access to the proposed North–South corridor rail network, which will connect South Africa to the Demo-cratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Malubila said that the possibility existed for the Zambian government to obtain more funds to carry out roads projects and other infrastructure projects. Its current annual work plan was $342-million, and there were commitments from various corporate partners to provide additional funding, he said.
The roads network in Zambia comprises 67 000 km of road, of various categories. Malubila said that the Zambian government had rationalised and prioritised the roads network and had decided to concentrate on dealing with the core roads network of 47 000 km, which would ensure connectivity, both within Zambia and with its neighbours in the subregion.
As a consequence, he noted, the Zambian government had instituted changes in the roads sector, and created three agencies to ensure efficiency in the management of this sector, with trans- parency and checks and balances.
Further, he said, the Zambian government had a road maintenance initiative with the World Bank, and a bankable document that highlighted how it would handle the road sector programme, and how it would develop the North–South corridor.
Malubila said that the condition of roads in Zambia ranged from good to bad, with 15% bad, 23% fair, and the rest good. Rehabilitation had also been completed on the Lusaka to Churunda road, and, as a result of developments such as these, traffic along the corridor had increased exponentially, he noted.
Malubila noted that in its infrastructure projects, Zambia faced the challenges of limited contracting capacity, and sustaining the road maintenance regime to ensure that the roads did not degenerate, as has happened in the past. However, he said the challenges also represented opportunities for investors to engage in public–private partnerships, as the Zambian government was looking to install toll roads in order to increase revenue.