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Ministerial Statement On The Status Of The Improved Rural Connectivity Project

Mr speaker,

I thank you for according me this opportunity to issue a ministerial statement on the status of government’s programme to rehabilitate and maintain primary feeder roads in rural areas across the country under the improved rural connectivity project (ircp).

Mr speaker,

The main objectives of the ircp is to improve rural connectivity and general access to rural areas through rehabilitation and maintenance of primary feeder roads in order to ease the movements of people, goods and services. The successful implementation of the project will therefore, enhance agricultural productivity and value addition. This will ultimately contribute to the reduction in poverty and vulnerability, and improved livelihoods of our people in rural areas. This is in line with the aspirations that we have set ourselves as a nation in the seventh national development plan and the vision 2030.

Mr. Speaker,

Statistics indicate that 72% of the primary feeder road network of the country is in a poor state. To address the situation of bad feeder roads, government has formulated the medium term road maintenance strategy covering the period 2015 to 2024

The strategy is primarily focussed on the road network in rural areas covering a total distance of 15,333 km of primary feeder roads across the country. The rationale for the strategy is to enable government streamline road rehabilitation and maintenance activities and have full appreciation of strategies to be employed and the level of resources required to address the problem of poor feeder road network in the country.

Mr speaker,

With this plan in place and taking into consideration the limited fiscal space, government engaged the world bank into discussions on the financing of the road maintenance strategy. The discussions were followed by the process of project planning and negotiations. In april, 2017 the world bank board of directors approved two hundred million united states dollars (us$200 million) credit towards zambia’s road maintenance strategy through the improved rural connectivity project (ircp).

Mr speaker,

The ircp is, therefore, the vehicle through which the rehabilitation and maintenance of the feeder roads will be implemented.  Out of the total credit ammount of 200 million dollars, 180 million dollars will go towards rehabilitation and maintenance of about 4,300 km of selected feeder roads across the country using the output and performance based road contracting model (oprc). 20 million dollars will be utilised for capacity building and institutional support to the road sector institutions.

Mr speaker, 

The 200 million dollars is quite a significant investment and represents the world bank’s single biggest support to zambia. This is despite the fact that in the road sector, this amount of investment is not substantial as it falls far below what government requires to rehabilitate and maintain the 15,333 km primary feeder roads across the country as envisaged under the medium term road maintenance strategy.

Mr speaker,

Given the limited resources, in relation to the needs   an objective and multi-criteria process was adopted in selecting the provinces, districts and the actual roads to benefit from the intervention under the world bank support. Some of the factors used in the selection process included the following:

  • Poverty incidence levels;
  • Agriculture production volumes;
  • Agro-business potential; and
  • Rural accessibility.

Mr speaker,

After applying the criteria, the provinces were ranked as follows:

  • Central province;
  • Eastern province;
  • Northern province;
  • Luapula province;
  • Southern province;
  • Muchinga province;
  • Western province;
  • North-western province;
  • Copperbelt province; and
  • Lusaka province.

In line with the agreed criteria, the funds from the world bank will go towards road works in six (6) provinces, namely, central, eastern, northern, luapula, southern and muchinga .  Further, government has committed to provide funding to go towards works in the remaining four (4) provinces, namely, western, north-western, copperbelt and lusaka   as parrarel funding to the project.

Mr. Speaker,

I wish to inform this august house that works in the six (6) provinces under world bank funding will commence this year while those in the government supported provinces are expected to commence later.

The ircp is expected to run for eight (8) years while contracts to contractors will be for a period of five years with the first two (2) years meant for rehabilitation works while the last three years will be for maintenance.

Mr speaker,

As i stated ealier, the works under the ircp will be implemented using the output and performance based road contracting which is a model primarily based on the contractor’s ability to perform. This approach transfers much of the risk associated with construction works to the contractor as opposed to the traditional methods where the client assumes much of the risk. Under this model, the contractors are expected to design the road, prepare competitive costings and execute the works.

Mr speaker,

In order to experdite the process, three consultants were engaged to undertake the following:

  • Survey the roads in all provinces to select road sections to be included in the oprc contracts;
  • Define expected service levels expected from contractors;
  • Packaging of road sections by contract;
  • Developing bidding documents; and
  • Preparing conceptual designs for the works.

 

Mr speaker,

I am happy to report that the selection of roads for central and eastern provinces has been completed. In central  province works will be undertaken in chibombo and mkushi districts while in eastern province selected roads are in vubwi, lundazi, petauke, sinda, chadiza, katete and chipata districts.  In addition, bidding documents for these two provinces have been submitted. Once the review of the bidding documents is finalised, bids will be invited from the public by beginning of april, 2018.

The road selection process and other preparatory work in the other provinces is still on-going and the general public will be informed accordingly once the process is completed.

 

Mr speaker,

In accordance with the world bank guidelines, the tendering process for the works will be competitive and will involve both local and international contractors. As government, we acknowledge that the majority of our local contractors may not be very familiar with the mode of contracting that will be used under the project.

Therefore, in order to ensure that local contractors are well informed and compete favourably, sensitization meetings with contractors in all the provinces have been conducted.  Further, government intends to facilitate more sensitisation meetings to ensure that we extend our outreach to all potential contractors as well as financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies that support contractors.

Mr speaker,

As i conclude my statement, i wish to inform the nation that the work to be undertaken is not limited to the rehabilitation and maintenance of the feeder road but extend to works on agriculture support infrastructure such as sheds, boreholes and market shelters among others as part of efforts to support local communities and agriculture production.

Sensitization programmes for the local leadership in the areas where works will be executed are also on-going to ensure that the communities are fully aware and ready to participate. We are hopeful that the project will deliver the intended results and contribute significantly to improving the welfare of our people.

Mr speaker,

The project will not only contribute to agriculture production in significant ways, but will also help to create  about 25,000 direct job opportunities for  the local people in the project areas over the period of its implementation. The focus on job creation is important to government and hence our decision to encourage the use of labour based technologies in the execution of the works.

As government, we remain resolved to continue on the path of wealth creation and prosperity for all the citizens of this great nation. We believe this is achievable given the support of our people and our commitment to deliver that which our people desire.

Mr speaker,

i thank you

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