PRESIDENT Michael Sata has launched the K27 trillion roads project dubbed 'Link Zambia-8000' with a stern warning to the Road Development Agency (RDA) against corruption in the engagement of contractors for the road works.
The President has also declared that the launch marked the implementation of the various campaign promises he made to the Zambian people and that more would follow.
Mr Sata said he would keep a microscopic eye on the manner RDA engaged contractors, adding that he had 'taken-over' the running of the Agency.
"I want the RDA to be careful in the manner they will be engaging contractors for the road works. I am taking over RDA. As you know me, I am a bulldozer, so I will be watching," President Sata said.
The 'Link Zambia-8000' is a project meant to connect outlying areas of Zambia to all the 10 provinces and would be implemented over a five-year period.
Mr Sata, at a colourful ceremony in Lusaka's State Lodge area in New Kasama, said his campaign promises last year were not bait for winning elections but that his Government was dedicated to
infrastructure development, including in the road sector.
"We promised the people and we will fulfill. This is just the beginning of things to come," he said.
He said Lusaka Province would be the first to experience the Patriotic Front (PF)'s "wind of change" for infrastructure development to be followed by Luapula.
He called on Members of Parliament (MPs) from the different political parties to ensure priority roads were identified and worked on as part of the development plan.
He said it was important to show financiers of the projects that Zambia was capable of carrying out road works in a prudent manner so that more financial support could follow.
The first phase of the road works would cover 2,290 kilometres at a cost of K7.9 trillion while in the second phase, the works would cover 3,049 kilometres of road network to cost K11.25 trillion.
The final phase would cost K9 trillion, covering a stretch of 2,862 kilometres.
The project would connect outlying areas to major trunk, main and district roads in the provinces and transform the country into a land-linked country.
During the function, Mr Sata also commissioned the commencement of the construction of the Lusaka-Leopards Hill Road project via Chiawa to Chirundu District.
The Leopards Hill Road project would go over Chongwe River and connect Feira right through to Luangwa Bridge, and would provide a link to Kasisi, Chipembi, Chalimbana and Palabana, among other areas.
"This important road link underlines the PF Government's desire and determination to develop the state of infrastructure in the country, particularly roads as enshrined in the ruling party's manifesto," Mr Sata said.
He also introduced United Party for National Development Livingstone Member of Parliament, Howard Sikwela and MMD candidate Joseph Akafumba, who lost the last by-election, saying the two were working together and signalling that there was no need for political acrimony at the expense of development.
"These two people, Sikwela and Akafumba are working together; they are not killing each other. I am inviting the two and I want to work with them to bring development," he said.
And Transport, Works, Supply and Communication Minister , Christopher Yaluma said the launch of the 'Link Zambia-8000' underscored Government's desire to improve the state of road infrastructure in the country.
Mr Yaluma said this was indicated in the allocation of K4.3 trillion in the 2012 work plan for roads and that the figure signalled the sector's importance to economic development.
He said his ministry translated the policy pronouncement into action.
And Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo III thanked the Government for spearheading development in her area.
The chieftainess recalled that she was under fire from former President Rupiah Banda when she expressed concern over the slow pace of development in her chiefdom.
"I was threatened with being dethroned because I asked for development. I want to thank you for hearing our cry that we need to share the national cake equally.
"I speak on behalf of all the people in Lusaka Province and show our appreciation for the road project and we will support you in the area of development," she said.
Chieftainess Chiawa, in a vote of thanks, also thanked the PF Government for unveiling various developmental programmes that would benefit the people and boost economic performance.
Vice-President Guy Scott and his wife Charlotte, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, Foreign Affairs Minister Given Lubinda, Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba, Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister
Nkandu Luo and her Tourism and Arts counterpart Sylvia Masebo were among the high-ranking Government officials present at the ceremony.