THE construction works for the KR399 million 115kilometre stretch of the Matumbo-Chama Road linking Northern, Muchinga and Eastern provinces has commenced.
The works, which are part of the Link-Zambia 8000 Project, are being undertaken by China Jiangxi Limited of China.
China Jiangxi was awarded the contract to construct a stretch of 115kilometres from Matumbo junction in Chinsali District to the proposed Luangwa Bridge where another contractor would upgrade the road from the bridge to Chama District in Muchinga Province.
Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Minister Christopher Yaluma inspected part of the road works yesterday, where China Jiangxi had so far cleared more than 20kilometres of the bush.
Mr Yaluma, who was accompanied by RDA officials, was impressed with the progress that had been recorded so far.
"I am happy to find that there has been quite a lot of progress since we came here with President Sata to officially launch this road project. When we came here, we just found some equipment on site but now the actual works have started," Mr Yaluma said.
During a recent visit to Muchinga, President Michael Sata, who was supposed to commission the commencement of the road works, expressed disappointment with the contractor's failure to be on site to commence works.
Mr Yaluma was happy the construction of the road had been divided into three portions by the contractor to accelerate construction works.
He was hopeful the contractor would work within the 36-months stipulated time frame.
He was, however, worried that the continuous heavy rainfall being experienced in Muchinga Province would delay progress.
He directed RDA Engineers in the province to conduct vigorous monitoring to ensure quality works were executed on the road according to expectations.
He said the road project, once completed, would be of significant value because it would serve as a short-cut from Northern to Eastern Province through Muchinga Province as well as linking Zambia to neighbouring Malawi and Tanzania, thereby enhancing trade in the three countries.
Mr Yaluma urged RDA engineers to work efficiently and ensure the contractor did not depart from the original design of the project.
He directed the contractor to provide jobs to the Zambian people in line with Government's desire to boost employment opportunities for locals.
"We promised the people of Zambia that we shall provide jobs and it is through these road projects that massive employment opportunities can be created for the local people," he said.
He said foreign contractors should also ensure that 20 per cent share of the awarded contracts signed with Government were given to local sub-contractors to empower them economically.
Earlier, Mr Yaluma inspected the camp site for China Jiangxi, where the chief engineer Wang Jie assured him that his firm would adhere to contractual obligations.
Mr Wang said about 80 per cent of the earth-moving equipment had arrived in the country and thanked Government for awarding his company the KR399 million road contract.
And Consultant Zulu Barrow and resident engineer Alfred Kambikambi assured that they would not disappoint Government but supervise the contractor to expeditiously execute the project according to plan.