Questions have arisen on whether newly created ministry of Infrustructure is prioritizing Investments targeted to benefit local and rural folks as works on all the four 2014 contracts for Habour upgrading are still work in progress with no single project completed 3 years on. This has come to light after the ministerial Statement presented by Infrastructure minister, Ronald Chitotela in Parliament.
Zambia has major fresh water rivers and lakes which the local and rural communities have used for their transport and economic activities even before the country gained independence. The 11 notable habours in Zambia include Mpulungu Harbour on Lake Tanganyika, which is the only international water gateway to the Great Lakes Region, Chilubi Harbour on Lake Bangweulu, Samfya Harbour on Lake Bangweulu.
Others are Nchelenge Harbour on Lake Mweru, Siavonga Harbour on Lake Kariba and Sinazongwe Harbour on Lake Kariba, Mulambwa Harbour on Zambezi River in Mongu, Luangwa/Feira Harbour on Luangwa River, Lupiya Harbour on Lake Mweru, Nsumbu Harbour on Lake Tanganyika and Shang’ombo Harbour on Rivungo Canal.
Chitotela said that “four contracts were signed to rehabilitate the harbour facilities on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Lake Bangweulu and Lake Mweru in 2014 under Phase 1.”
On the Nchelenge Harbour, 35% of works on the structure have been completed at the cost of K1.4 million. These works include, upgrading of the Nchelenge/ Mweru Water Transport Board Offices, lodging facilities and construction of landing jets and associated embankments. The contractor working on the office block and lodging facilities has since submitted the second certificate for payment. The contract sum is K30 million and the contractor is Messrs Angel Construction.
For the Samfya Harbour, the contract sum of K30 million was signed off. The works include finalisation of the geo-technical investigation and on-going construction of embankments and landing jets. Further, works are still at design stage for the road and the driveway to docking points. Currently, 20 per cent of the works have been completed. The contractor is Kawazane Enterprises.
On the Chilubi Harbour, Clest Mark Investment Limited was engaged to carry out the development of the landing jets at the cost of K490, 606. However, progress on the works is not expected as the project has stalled at slab level, with only three courses built. The contractor has since abandoned the site for more than six months.
For forth contract for the Shang’ombo Harbour was initiated by the collaborative efforts involving the Government of Zambia and Angola through the development of the Shang’ombo to Rivungo Canal. With regard to the harbour infrastructure on the Zambian side, Messrs Clest Mark Investment Limited contractor will commence works as soon as he finishes demobilising from Rivungo on the Angolan side where works have been completed.
For the only international Habour, Mpulungu Port, the ministry of Infrastructure has already received the report submitted by the consultant with a preliminary cost of US$47 million. Government has already requested the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Union (EU) for the US$47 million to fund the construction.
The uneven distribution of development in Zambia has been a key hindrance to economic diversification with government spending and infrastructure development concentrated along the colonial built line of rail. A line that was developed with the key aim of exploiting copper and the related Agro industry.
To diversify its economy, Zambia will need to find diverse key economic activities across the 10 provinces/regions of Zambia that are not directly dependent on the massive copper driven economics. The exploitation of the waterway transport system has the potential to develop the alternative aquaculture and tourism industries that are capable of offering a viable alternative to the over-dependance on the Copper Mining value chain.