Great East Road death trap

DISASTERS are looming on the Great East Road because the rains are likely to wash away the detours that have been constructed during the on-going repair works, says  former president Rupiah Banda’s son Andrew.

Mr Banda said the reconstruction of the road could have been done in three phases to avert possible disasters instead of working on the whole stretch of 600 kilometres.

He said government would not have allowed the contractor, Montagal Construction Company to excavate the whole road at once but should have done it in phases

Mr Banda said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the slow pace at which the highway was being rehabilitated was worrisome and might take four years to be completed.

“I would have loved a situation where the road was done in phases like from Luangwa Bridge to Nyimba; then phase two from Nyimba to Sinda; and phase three from Sinda to Chipata/Mchinji. But they want to do the whole road at once, the result is that nothing has really been done seriously,” he said.

“What will happen is that everything they have done will be washed away by rains and Eastern Province will be cut off from the rest of the country.  The whole of Great East Road will be submerged, all detours and the old stretch of the road will be washed away because of so many disturbances to the road.”

Mr Banda said he was disappointed at the contractor’s work culture and wondered whether he had necessary skills to execute it.

Mr Banda said because of slow pace of construction works, it would soon become very difficult to do business between Lusaka and Eastern Province.

“At the beginning of this year, I could take six to seven hours driving between Chipata and Lusaka. Two months ago, it took me  nine hours to travel on the Great East Road today (Friday) it took me almost 12 to 14 hours and the situation will get even worse as we  proceed towards the end of the year,” he said.

He said the road  contract was negotiated when MMD was in government and that the former ruling party should be given credit for initiating rehabilitation of the road.

Mr Banda commended the Patriotic Front (PF) for continuing with the development projects the former ruling party initiated.

He said because of bad state of the road, it would be difficult for government to deliver farming inputs to farmers.

Mr Banda also said government had not yet delivered fertilizers and other farming inputs except in Vubwi where there was by-election.

He said because of the failure by government to deliver farming inputs on time and not paying attention to the needs of people, it would affect next year’s maize harvest.