President’s Reduction of foreign trips receives kudos, leaves critics scratching heads

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 09:36:12 +0000


CRITICS of President Edgar Lungu’s trips abroad are perhaps scratching their heads pondering on what next to discuss.

This follows his disclosure that he had reduced his foreign trips abroad to supervise stalled and upcoming development projects in the country.

His disclosure in Ndola that he had suspended all international trips due to the huge workload on stalled projects in the country is expected to end wide debate regarding the trips among his critics.

The President’s move to reduce international trips at the height of increased pressure to complete stalled projects has received mixed reactions among some stakeholders in random interviews with the Daily Nation.

Governance Elections Advocacy and Research Services (GEARS) Executive Director, McDonald Chipenzi, has said the President’s decision was a good and welcome measure which should be commended by all peace loving Zambians.

“When the economy is not doing well it is good to cut on some expenses. What President Lungu has done is the most prudent thing one can do,’’ said Mr. Chipenzi.

Mr. Chipenzi said President Lungu’s supervision of stalled works could also seal loopholes in corruptly awarded contracts by some government officials.

New Generation Party president, Humphrey Siulapwa, expressed hope that those attacking President Lungu regarding foreign trips would now give him credit.

“A lot of people said the President was spending a lot of money on international trips. His decision to reduce these trips is good for the country. I hope that those critics will give him credit for the decision he has made,’’ said Mr Siulapwa.

The decision to check on stalled projects has come at the time when Zambians are craving for good roads, drainage and roads rehabilitation safe drinking water among other ventures.

The President’s on-the-spot supervision of stalled projects and new ones would also see speedy works and seal loopholes to corruption in tender procedures among some government officials.

The latest development should be seen as a milestone in ensuring that the PF government’s development goals are achieved and his pledge to fulfil late President Michael Sata’s vision by completing all the development projects that the latter initiated before embarking on new ones.

Among some of the achievements of finished development projects that took place under his reign include construction of the $1.2 billion solar power plants in Lusaka.

The two 100 MW are located in the Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone.

This is the country’s first solar photo-voltaic project and is part of the World Bank’s Scaling Solar Programme which makes Zambia the first African country to implement the project.

It was funded by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank and the US government through the Obama Power Africa Initiative implemented by the Industrial Development Corporation.

The project aims to accelerate the use of alternative and renewable energy sources.

Other achievements are the construction of the roads in Itezhi Tezhi and Kalomo districts, considered to be UPND strong holds.

The US$21 million road project works included the upgrading of the drainage systems to climate proofed designs to suit the climate of Itezhi Tezhi and Kalomo.

And the persistent appeals by cross sections of people, politicians included, for upgrading of the drainages across the country came to fruition under Mr. Lungu’s administration.

This was evidenced when the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Zambia launched the construction of the US$355 million Mazyopa-Bombay drainage project in Lusaka, thanks to the United States government which funded the Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage Project project.

The groundbreaking of three construction activities focused on improving rainwater management throughout a number of Lusaka communities.

The drainage construction works were anchored within the comprehensive urban development plans for Lusaka.

Two of the construction packages focused on rehabilitation of the Bombay drain and its tributaries, which runs approximately 30 kilometers across Lusaka from Chilenge South to the Ngwerere stream.

The works involved transforming existing natural courses and un-engineered drains by widening or deepening them in key locations, and lining them with concrete in order to strengthen them, increase their carrying capacity and protect the infrastructure.

North Western Province Township roads have since been commissioned by President Lungu

Tremendous progress has also been recorded in the health sector with achievements in the construction of phase two of the Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital in Lusaka.

The Chinese government released 400 million Yuan (about US$58 million) for the expansion of bed capacity from the current 150 to 850.

Construction of the hospital was one of the measures aimed at decongesting the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

In the health sector, various clinics and health centres have since been upgraded to level one hospitals.

Recently President Lungu warned that he would part company with some Government officials and contractors if his audit of developmental projects countrywide revealed that they were the ones hindering progress.

President Lungu noticed with great concern that developmental projects in some parts of the country were progressing at a slow pace and that he would not spare anyone who would be found wanting saying “enough was enough.”

“This year, 2018, I will be doing snap checks and audits of all the works we promised to do and I want convincing reasons why they are not being done. So let it be a warning to all of you who are charged with these projects,” he said.

President Lungu said he would personally visit projects this year, warning to kick out all those frustrating government.

Last year, President Lungu on a working visit to Southern Province, tabulated a number of developmental projects that have happened under his wing.

Among the projects included an ultra-modern airport in Livingstone – Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, a modern Intercity Bus Terminal, and state of art hospital in Munyumbwe Gwembe, among other developmental projects. The development agenda President Lungu has on his table should also been seen as a catalyst to implementation of the seventh National Development Plan (2017 to 2021) which should be within the principle of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, where no one should be left behind.

Last year when he launched the K342.3 billion 7th National Development Plan, President Lungu pledged to build a resilient and diversified economy adding that the plan indicated government’s commitment to planning, as the gateway to the Vision 2030 target, which was a long term national aspiration

The President said there was need to implement the five-year development plan within the principle of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, where no one should be left behind.

“Given our natural resource endowment and a youthful population, we have no option but to succeed in implementing the seventh national development plan. Our attitudes and collective mindsets, particularly towards work and participation in national affairs, require urgent transformation.

“Given, I therefore, urge all Zambians from all walks of life, young and old, rural and urban, from Shangombo to Kaputa and from Chipata to Mongu to be fully committed to the implementation of our plan.

“Given, Let us all work hard and show commitment to the development of our country. Let us all learn from and be inspired by the amazing and successful development experiences of countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. Indeed, nothing is impossible,” said President Lungu during the launch in Lusaka last year.

Now that President Lungu has reduced his international trips which had been criticized in some circles, it remains to be seen what new topics his usual critics would turn their attention to.

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