Kambwili tells Lungu to resign over ‘corrupt’ Lusaka-Ndola road project

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CHISHIMBA Kambwili says President Edgar Lungu must resign on
moral grounds for launching the US$1.2 billion Lusaka-Chingola
dual carriageway project which he says stinks corruption. And
Kambwili says he will ask donors for assistance on a forensic
audit of the road construction projects in the country.

But infrastructure development minister Ronald Chitotela has
claimed the prices of cement and bitumen had aggravated the
cost of construction in the country.

Meanwhile, Kambwili has insisted that he is still a member of
the ruling PF but is against the “rotten, corrupt leadership in
the PF”.

Experts at the Road Development Agency have revealed
anonymously that a top quality road in Zambia costs around
$750,000 per kilometer, and wondered why the government was
ready to spend in excess of $3 million per kilometer on
construction of the Lusaka-Chingola dual carriageway. Speaking
at a press briefing at his residence in Luanshya yesterday,
Kambwili, the Roan member of parliament and former information
minister who was fired from government and recently expelled
from the party, said President Lungu had made his ministers
moribund because everything was being done at State House.

He said the price of the 320-kilometre dual carriageway was
inflated in order for those involved to get commissions from
the project, leading to single-sourcing an expensive
undertaking.

Kambwili challenged authorities to state if they had advertised
the major road projects, including the Nseluka-Kayambi and
others in the country.
He said the Lusaka-Chingola dual-carriageway project President
Lungu launched last week must be terminated to allow a
comprehensive forensic audit to ascertain its true cost by
competent and independent engineers and auditors.

“We would like to appeal to this government to immediately
terminate and cancel the contract for the dual-carriageway
from Lusaka to the Copperbelt, not that we don’t want the
road, not that the people of Zambia don’t want the road, but
I think there are more questions to be answered on the
integrity and pricing of that contract,”

Kambwili said.

“First and foremost, we want to know whether the contract was
advertised. How many companies responded to the advert? What
were the quotations of the other companies that competed for
this road project? Surely $1.2 billion can’t be
single-sourced. Nowhere in the world where a contract to the
tune of US$1.2 billion is single sourced. If it’s true that
this was single sourced, we demand that the President, who
went to open the project, should resign on moral grounds.”

He said Zambians had been docile by not questioning unnecessary
public expenditure by those in government.

“…the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing [Ronald Chitotela]
should also resign on moral grounds, and people at RDA who were
involved in awarding this contract should be disciplined. I
think by and large, we cannot allow a few people to earn
commissions on road projects. We have been so docile as
Zambians not to question some of these unnecessary expenditure.
Nobody had a problem with the cost of Mongu-Kalabo road because
we all know the terrain of Western Province and because most of
that road is suspended on very heavy concrete but what has
necessitated the contract of 320 km from Lusaka into the
Copperbelt, into Ndola to cost US$1.2 billion? I am convinced
beyond reasonable doubt after consulting with engineers, very
high profiled civil engineers, that this cost has been inflated
because of people wanting to get commission. No wonder they
rushed to go and commission this project,” Kambwili said.

He said he would write donors to help with a forensic audit of
the road projects.

“…we want to carry out a forensic audit using renowned
experts, both at home and abroad, to determine whether it is
feasible for the road to cost almost $400,000 per kilometre.
That is unacceptable and I think our engineers should do us a
favour, we want the Engineering Institution of Zambia and the
Civil Engineers in Zambia to constitute a team that is going
to carry out an audit to determine whether that project can
cost that much and I think we will be writing to the donors
to also second some engineers so that we can find out exactly
whether this road can cost $1.2 billion. US$1.2 billion is a
lot of money to be spent on 300 km road stretch. I think this
is unacceptable. If this government is genuine and
accountable, they should suspend this project until the audit
is carried out…but spending 1.2 billion on a road from Lusaka
to Ndola is unacceptable. We plead with you, otherwise we
will fight you through Parliament, all the opposition are
going to unite with us to make sure that we fight this
alleged corruption, because we are convinced beyond
reasonable doubt that this transaction, stinks corruption,”

Kambwili said.

He also challenged government to explain why AVIC International
had been given the contract to do the C400 road project, which
was initially awarded to China Henan.
“Is it because of the revelations by honourable [Saviour]
Chishimba that AVIC is building houses for His Excellency the
President? We also want to know how the Lusaka L400 was awarded
to AVIC…we are tired of single-sourcing,” he said.

But during a briefing in Lusaka yesterday to counter some of
the issues raised by Kambwili, Chitotela claimed cement and
bitumen were costing five times more than other countries in
the region.

“Just cement alone costs five to six times higher than in South
Africa,” Chitotela claimed.

He said whereas the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriage way would cover
640 kilometres, the total road network to be built in the
process would be 800 kilometres when the additional roads,
which included the bypasses, were constructed.

Chitotela said the PF regime would not be discouraged from
borrowing to invest in new road projects and building new
districts.

“The question is how do we grow the economy if you can’t invest
in infrastructure development? How do we improve the GDP
because the GDP can only improve when you grow the economy?”
Chitotela asked.

“We must not be scared to invest in projects that are going to
assist to grow the economy. We need to realize that we need to
take bold decisions; begin to implement these theories and
hence our children will be able to see the benefits of what we
are doing today.”
He said the government would continue to borrow to invest in
new roads.

“In Africa, because people had gone to Harvard University and
learnt and said for you to grow the economy in Africa, you
must not borrow beyond 40 per cent of the GDP. In
Europe…Japan today, the total debt is 245 per cent of their
GDP; in America, it is 178 per cent of the GDP,” said
Chitotela. “In Zambia, we are at 32 per cent and we are told
if you borrow beyond 40 per cent, you will not be able to pay
back hence your economy will be classified by some
international classifications who have learnt theories in
Harvard University and they will classify us either us
negative, junk or positive and we have agreed to live with
that; us we can’t borrow beyond 40 per cent of our GDP
because then we can’t [and] then we will fail to sustain the
debt.”

Latest statistics by the Ministry of Finance and International
Monetary Fund reveal that the government’s net debt ratio
increased from 23 per cent of GDP in 2013 to an estimated 57
per cent in 2017.

On mining, Kambwili said Chinese investors in the sector wanted
to turn State House into an extension of their boardrooms.
He threatened to carry out a lone protest at the Chinese
embassy in Lusaka similar to the one he did at State House in
2009 if Baluba and Muliashi mines that were closed three years
ago due to low copper prices on the international market then
were not opened.

“Today the copper price is US$7000 per tonne on the world
market, and we do not see any reason why Baluba mine should
continue to be under care and maintenance. I think by and
large, we have been taken for a ride by these investors,
particularly Chinese investors in the mining sector. I don’t
know exactly what these Chinese investors have given the
government for them to be quiet about the injustice miners in
the Chinese run mines are going through. You may be aware
that the Chinese run mines are the lowest paying mines in
this country,”

Kambwili said.

He said the conditions of service in the Chinese-run mines were
pathetic but their complaints were falling on deaf ears as the
government had ignored them.

“…because when you go to see the Chinese, they say ask the
President. We discussed with the President; Mr President, can
you tell us what you have discussed with the Chinese. The
people of Luanshya want to know what you have discussed with
the Chinese. Every time you go to ask them, they say find out
from the President and this is where the problem is; when
State House wants to handle everything, even issues that can
be handled by a minister, then you make your ministers
moribund because they cannot perform, they cannot go
anywhere. The problem of Chinese is that they want to turn
State House into an extension of their own boardrooms,”

Kambwili said.

He also urged government to stop outsourcing operations to
Chinese contractors saying “soon the economy of Chingola and
Chililabombwe will be brought down the same way the economies
of Chambishi and Luanshya have been killed by Chinese”.

Kambwili gave government a seven-day ultimatum to explain why
Baluba mine cannot be reopened, failure to which he would
protest on behalf of Luanshya miners.

He also challenged President Lungu to disclose the source of
the Presidential Market Empowerment Scheme where K10 million
had so far been spent.
Kambwili said innocent marketeers might be used to clean dirty
money from corrupt contractors.
He further said it was not correct for President Lungu to
parade himself with contractors such the proprietor of Inyatsi
Construction at a function in Swaziland last week.

And when asked why he was disclosing those issues now that he
was out of government, Kambwili said one of the reasons he was
kicked out of government was because of his stance on the
current happenings in Presidnet Lungu’s administration.

And asked further how far he had gone in registering ‘his’
party, the National Democratic Congress, Kambwili said: “I am
still PF, the owner of that party is Mwenya Musenge. I am PF.
When we were expelled, Mwenya said he was going to form a
political party, me I said I will challenge my expulsion in
court, because I was not elected by the President or Central
Committee but the people of Roan…I am not against PF, what I am
against is the rotten leadership in PF, the corrupt leadership
in PF.”

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