Huge bill stops govt from tarring three roads in E/Province

Infrastructure development minister Vincent Mwale says government is re-scoping 32 road projects across the country because of lack of funds amounting to K19 billion.

And Mwale says the commissioning of a water drilling rig in Chipangali will end water problems.

Featuring on Breeze FM in Chipata on Monday, Mwale who is also Chipangali PF member of parliament, said the rescoping of the roads does not mean that the government had abandoned the initial plans of upgrading them to bituminous standard.

“All these 32 roads were supposed to be upgraded to bituminous standards and the bill came to K19 billion. Chipata/Chadiza, Chipata/Vubwi and Petauke/Chilongozi roads; they were all supposed to be tarred. But the bill for all the roads reached K19 billion. We looked at it because the money is not there and the contractors have stopped,” Mwale said. “Sometimes, we normally pay them in installments, like the ones working on the Chipata/Vubwi we give them part payment of K10 million. But this money can only be used to create a diversion. What we are saying is that we are going to make all weather gravel roads and later when we are going to find resources we are going to tar these roads.”

He said some projects started a long time ago and the government realised that it could not complete them at once.

“We discovered that projects are many and they cannot be done at once. So, we sat down and decided, it is a Cabinet decision not, Vincent Mwale’s decision. This is not just about roads, it is also about other big projects like hospitals, schools. Even these roads like the Chadiza and Vubwi, we are not saying we have abandoned the initial plans to tar them but we want to do that in phases,” Mwale said. “Now, we start with the phase where we are going to start with putting up well compacted gravel, then when we find the money we are going to tar the roads.”

On the rig, Mwale said he was happy that it had been commissioned.

“And my prayer is that we can have water at each and every village. As we speak today, the rig has started working and so far a number of boreholes have been drilled. A lot of people brought in politics but the truth has come true and people are happy with this state-of-art machine,”he said.

Meanwhile, Mwale has tasked Chipangali town council to enforce the ban on mobile markets commonly known as Kabwandire.

“Government has put up some laws and one of those laws is to avoid large crowds, because if one person has coronavirus then it can easily be spread to various people. We closed all the mobile markets in Chipangali. Now if we closed schools, it means that government saw it fit that that’s the right thing to do. There are even restrictions on the number of people that should attend funerals, even weddings,” said Mwale. “I want the council to make sure because markets fall under the local authority. The council should use council police, even state police to enforce the ban on Kabwandire. I am busy in Lusaka, I can’t manage to go to each and every place to stop Kabwandire. I spoke to the council chairperson for Chipangali, Million Tembo about this issue and he told me that these markets have continued. My appeal is that let’s work together, and this should not be the work of the council alone or for the MP or for the councilor, but let’s work together to stop this. Sometimes these markets attract our colleagues from Malawi, we don’t know what is obtaining in Malawi regarding this pandemic.”

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