The on-going expansion of the Great North Road between Kapiri Mposhi and Chibombo districts has excited many motorists who have said the move will help reduce congestion and road traffic accidents that have characterised the road for a long time now.
Some private and public vehicles drivers told the Daily Nation in Kabwe that because of increased traffic on the road, it was taking them long hours to drive and that if someone tried to increase the speed, they were mostly involved in road accidents some of which had been fatal.
In 2012, over 50 people died when a Lusaka-bound Post bus collided with a truck along the same road.
“We are very delighted that the road is now getting expanded though we would have loved a dual carriage way created, but we are sure when it is expanded we shall reduce on time and also minimise accidents. We only hope that the project will be expedited so that we get moving,” said Mark Lubemba who lives in Kabwe but drives to Lusaka for work every day.
The excitement has also been registered among bus drivers who complained that the congestion was making it difficult for them to meet their daily cashing targets because they could not reach their destinations on time.
“Boss the owners of these buses want money in full but we are delayed on the way because of congestion so at times we are forced to contravene traffic regulations such as overtaking on the left lane just to reach our destination on time and load again. The project is welcome and we praise Government for this,” James Kapembwa, a bus driver, said.
According to the Sixth National Development Plan, Government was supposed to construct a dual carriage way from Lusaka to Copperbelt to curb congestion on the road but sources from both Ministry of Finance and the Road Development Agency (RDA) have indicated that the project has been pushed to the next development plan.
Efforts to get a comment from Central Province permanent secretary Edwidge Mutale on the position of the works failed but provincial Chief Planner Gabriel Mpongwe has disclosed that the 50 kilometres Kabwe to Kapiri Mposhi stretch had already been worked on and would soon be ready for use.
In an interview, Mr. Mpongwe disclosed that the Kapiri Mposhi to Kabwe road was worked on by Roads and Pavings Zambia while Sable Transport and contractors would take 18 months.
He disclosed that the 30 kilometres contract was signed in March this year and that the contractor had already moved on site.
Mr. Mpongwe said according to plans, the road would also have a four way lane of about a kilometre on the entrance to Kabwe from Lusaka to curb the congestion at the railway crossing.
“There will also be a four way lane heading into Kabwe so as to curb the congestion at the railway crossing so that is why you have seen most people who were trading there were being relocated to other places. As for the dual carriage way and costs of the projects, RDA and the PS will be in better position to give you the exact amounts,” he said.
And a check by the Daily Nation revealed earth moving equipment clearing the road, with some bill boards removed to pave way for the works.
Meanwhile, Kabwe Mayor Richard Bango has appealed to residents and motorists to cooperate with the contractor during the time of works.
He said the traders at Kasanda market have since been relocated to another trading area along the hospital road.
The Mayor expressed optimism that with the expansion and the eventual construction of the dual carriage way, travelling would be made simpler and that accidents would be minimised