The current economic crisis presents the nation a wonderful opportunity to plan, re-orient and therefore put in place long term mitigatory measures that will ensure steady and sustained national development.
For a start the crisis must serve as a wakeup call challenging each and every Zambian to re-examine our work culture, commitment and dedication to a national effort directed at creating change and development for the better.
This will require individual commitment especially among those working in Government and whose duty it is to coordinate the development efforts.
The Government is investing huge amounts of money in infrastructure development. The entire country has been turned into a virtual work station, in which roads, schools, universities and hospitals are being constructed at a pace never seen before. This investment will be wasted if not reciprocated with a responsible and receptive attitude to fully utilize the development.
That is why with this development has come the challenge of efficiency, quality control and timely work schedules.
While the cost escalations due to delays and reduced cash flow are bound to undermine the work and speed of completion, human failure manifested by poor quality and finish of roads and other buildings is the most pervasive afflicting most projects.
Poor supervision has resulted in shoddy performance, thereby short-changing Government and ultimately the people of Zambia, from investment made at great cost, sometimes through the Eurobond
Sadly too some contractors working in collaboration with consultants have cut corners with the intention of cheating government out of project funding
This malfeasance is widespread and has led to the demolition of some completed projects that could not pass the test. The specter of blocks made from poor mixtures haunts most public buildings.
This form of sabotage is too common place and unfortunately we do not seem to have sufficient supervisory resources to contain graft. Our Anti-Corruption Commission is fairly moribund and seemingly incapable of stemming the huge contract hemorrhage the country is suffering.
Many projects bear glaring defects with roads built without any shoulders, drainage and culverts to protect the integrity of the structures. The lifespan of such projects is indeterminable.
Government inspectors who should guard against such shoddy works have adopted a laissez faire attitude partly because they have colluded with contractors to sign and pass payment certificates which should not ordinarily be approved but are allowed for selfish personal interest.
There is need for a new culture and an appreciation that public utilities are an investment in austerity and unless assiduously executed will constitute a risk to the users.
Poor roads on which the Government spends billions of kwacha will be a danger to users if not properly completed.
Time has come for a new national consciousness to take seriously the message of change, transformation and commitment to national development.