Copperbelt Mining Agricultural and Commercial Show (CMACS) chairperson William Osborn just does not get it :
Mr Osbourn is correct in identifying that the poor state of the roads imposes costs on all road users and particularly raises the costs of transportation for mining companies. He is also correct to note that "nearly all mine transport was done by road at present and that the system could no longer take it". In short mining companies have destroyed our urban and inter-urban roads. However he is absolutely wrong to say "If government invested money on the railway system in the country, this would save the mining companies an enormous amount of transport cost". It does not make any economic sense whatsoever. Why would any person in their right mind ask the government to subsidise the damage that is being done by mining companies? The economic principle is the opposite. The polluter pays for the damage done, not to be rewarded!Osborn further said if a fair system of taxing the mining industry on profits could be devised on the basis of negotiation, everyone could benefit. He said the government would realise more revenue that could be spent on improving some of the dilapidated infrastructure on the Copperbelt. “If government invested money on the railway system in the country, this would save the mining companies an enormous amount of transport cost and in turn save the government an enormous amount of money in road maintenance,” he said. Osborn observed that nearly all mine transport was done by road at present and that the system could no longer take it. He cited what he termed the dreadful state of the Mufulira-Sabina road and the huge volume of traffic on the Kitwe-Chingola road as examples.
Enock Kavindele expressed this point very well :
The appropriate policy response is one we have been advocating since day one. We need to find creative ways in which new investment (mining and other sectors - it must be generic not sector specific) in the country can be tied to broader local investment in the transport sector. The model that is needed is similar to the framework that the UK has adopted under Section 106 of the Town and Planning Country Act (1995). This UK legislation basically makes it a condition that any new investment in any local area of the UK should be conditional on providing some minimum level of investment in schools, transport and other things, if the local authority deems necessary. The "nil-detriment" principle applies to inter-urban infrastructure under similarly supporting legislation (e.g. Section 278). Other nations have similar approaches. Failure to take this approach will result in road and rail network that mirrors our crippling electrical situation. As the IMF noted, Zambia's infrastructure is lagging behind the rate of investment. The economic principle here is simply one of polluter pays. The mining companies are destroying our roads more disproportionately than everyone else. They must bear the burden - not the government. In fact this should be easy to implement and something that would dramatically lead to empowerment of local communities.“.....As it stands, the [road] repair and rehabilitation costs are borne entirely by the government and cease to be their problem. In the next three years, both Kitwe to Chingola road and the Kitwe to Lumwana road will be completely damaged.....All this heavy traffic combined with all other road users will place an extraordinary strain on all services, utilities and infrastructure....the combined Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambian mines related freight volumes in 2010 would be 2,400 000 tonnes of copper ore per annum..... In Chingola, this will translate to having a truck on the roads every three minutes to and from. Roads in the town will become completely congested with the route between Chingola and Kitwe becoming almost impassable not to mention the hazardous conditions that will be faced by normal motorists and pedestrians".
It is the unbridled arrogance of the likes of Mr Osborn that we have this website. We must not entertain poorly thought out ideas from those sponsored by multi national corporations with little care for our people.