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Thursday 20/09/2018

Siliya and traffic congestion

Dear Editor,

Lately, whenever Madam Dora Siliya makes a public statement, one is left to wonder whether her ministry has been changed to ministry of misinformation. In recent months,  the Minister of Information and Chief Government spokesperson has made a couple of unsubstantiated claims. In May, Madam Siliya claimed a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey had shown that Zambian women were the biggest consumers of alcohol in the world.

 

In July, the minister claimed through her Twitter account that Turkey was part of the European Union.  Last month, the chief Government spokesperson claimed that a research showed that 80% of Zambian citizens are using WhatsApp, Skype, and Viber to make phone calls. And this past week, Thursday, September 13, 2018 to be precise, Madam Dora during a media briefing, alluded to traffic congestion in Zambia as a sign of the economy doing well.

Now, coming to her latest wild claim. Sure there are a lot of automobiles on our roads, but for anyone to claim that it is tantamount to the economy doing well is hogwash. One does not need to have a Degree or PhD in Economics to understand the negative impact traffic congestion has on the growth of the economy. Madam Siliya and those in PF can con themselves all they want. It would, however, be silly for anyone to buy into the minister’s cheap rhetoric.

In September last year, then Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe described the level of road traffic congestion in Lusaka as unbearable and unsafe after she travelled around the city using public transport as a way of having a feel of the public transport system in Lusaka.

Ms Mwanakatwe said and I quote, “I thought of using Public Transport so I can feel what our people feel. The traffic is unbearable and we need to make our roads safe, and also create a comfortable Public Transport system for our citizens.”

So if the general citizenry is subjected to an uncomfortable and unsafe public transport system on a daily basis, how can anyone in their right frame of mind claim that the economy is doing well?

The traffic congestion we are seeing in major cities and towns across the country are a result of a poor road network and a combination of gross negligence, incompetence and corruption by the present and immediate past governments. Madam Siliya and her government need to understand that there are a multitude of other costs and problems that emanate from daily traffic congestion.

Among the negative effects of traffic congestion is road rage. Just a couple days ago a Zambia Air Force officer appeared at a Lusaka magistrate court for assaulting a Lusaka business woman. This officer is reported to have slapped the woman in a road rage fit rapturing her eardrum.

Madam Siliya need to understand that traffic congestion means that access is impeded, deliveries are not made on time. It is no moot point that delays affect production. Now, if traffic congestion disrupts business activities and reduces productivity level and put people’s lives at risk how can Madam Siliya claim the economy is doing well?

 

Kampa Senkwe

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