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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Policy Direction on Transport and Communication

This speech is a useful resource on the current policy direction of the government on transport and communication. There are a number of projects I was not aware of until I read this. 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to outline the policy direction of the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication for the year 2014.

As the House may be aware, this ministry is charged with the responsibility of facilitating the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure. It is also responsible for promoting the development of the transport and communication sector in order to contribute to the socio-economic development of our country. It is further responsible for the control of Government transport, office equipment and Government printing. It also provides meteorological services.

Part of the priority programmes for my ministry are as outlined in the Speech given to this august House by His Excellency, Mr Michael Chilufya Sata, the President of the Republic of Zambia during the Official Opening of the Third Session of the Eleventh National Assembly. Further, these are in accordance with the priority programmes in the Revised Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP). Therefore, my ministry’s approach is to ensure that the commitments made by His Excellency the President on infrastructure development projects are implemented through budgetary allocations.

Before I go on to outlining the priority programmes for 2014, allow me to highlight some of the key achievement, for 2013. In 2013, this House appropriated K539,808,010 for my ministry. The following were some of the achievements of the ministry and its agencies:

(i) completion of almost all Formula 1 projects;
(ii) completion of the modernisation of the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone;
(iii) commencement of the implementation of Phase I of the Link Zambia 8,000 km Road Project, under which 1,500 km of roads is being constructed;
(iv) commencement of the Pave Zambia 2,000 km Road Project;
(v) construction of housing units at border posts to ease housing problems for immigration and other personnel in the border posts at Katima Mulilo and Nakonde;
(vi) commencement of the Lusaka 400 km (L400) Road Project;
(vii) completion of the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka;
(viii) construction of One-Stop Border Post at Katima Mulilo and Nakonde Border posts;
(ix) establishment of eight automatic observing weather stations in the Eastern, Lusaka, Muchinga and Southern provinces;
(x) commencement of the E-governance Programme which aims at improving Government services to the public and lowering the costs of doing business;
(xi) starting of the pilot project for the National Addressing System/Post Code;
(xii) rolling out of the 169 communication towers by the Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) countrywide in chiefdoms;
(xiii) procurement of two dredgers for the dredging of canals countrywide;
(xiv) introduction of 20 per cent local contractor access;
(xv) improved services offered by the Zambia Postal Services (ZAMPOST);
(xvi) introduction of a logistics company at ZAMPOST;
(xvii) commencement of sim card registration; and
(xviii) revamping of the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) and Tanzania-Zambia Railways (TAZARA).

I wish to thank the hon. Members of Parliament for supporting our Budget for 2013 which has enabled my ministry to successfully implement these important programmes and I look forward to the same support for the 2014 proposals.

Let me now focus on the 2014 Budget for the ministry. In 2014, we are proposing to spend K864,138,902. That is an increase of 37.5 per cent from the 2013 Budget due to the massive infrastructure development projects to be embarked on in 2014.

A good road network is a recipe for sustainable development. It is, therefore, pivotal for fostering trade, economic growth, production and social development. My ministry will, therefore, continue to implement the various road network projects, such as the Link Zambia 8,000 km Road Project, Pave Zambia 2,000 km Road Project and L400 Road Project, to ensure an improved network. The implementation of the road projects will continue to contribute to job creation as well as enhance local trade and regional integration.

The Government will fully implement the Pave Zambia 2,000 km Road Project that will see 540 km of the road network covered in 2014. The project is designed to create jobs for the people of Zambia in accordance with our PF Manifesto.

The ministry will also facilitate the implementation of the L400 Road Project to upgrade the roads in Lusaka. The L400 Road Project will see the construction and upgrading of 400 km of the road network. These road projects outlined above, will contribute significantly to job creation. About 40,000 jobs will have been created by the year 2014 from this sector alone.

In order to ensure the sustainability of good road conditions, my ministry intends to construct a number of toll gates on selected major roads. As we roll out the road construction, we shall prioritise road safety awareness and sensitisation, as well as implementation through the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA).

My ministry recognises the important role that the aviation sub-sector plays in promoting trade and investment and, in particular, its contribution to the tourism industry. Consequently, the 2014 Budget will seek to support the procurement of radar systems for the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Kenneth Kaunda International airports to ensure safety in air navigation. To enhance access to tourists’ destinations across the country, my ministry will prioritise the rehabilitation and upgrading of aerodromes in selected districts to ensure that we focus on a few projects and achieve results, given the available resources.

My ministry has initiated measures to establish a national flag carrier. We intend to actively pursue the objective of securing the necessary partnership and equipment required to achieve our desire for a national flag carrier. Already, consultative meetings with selected stakeholders to ensure the establishment of a national flag carrier are being held. My ministry has also accelerated the transformation of the Department of Civil Aviation into an authority to ensure professionalism.

The water transport sub-sector has received very limited attention in the past despite its huge potential for the transportation of both goods and people. This coming year, we intend to prioritise this sub-sector and develop and manage water infrastructure across the country so as to increase the utilisation of water bodies. The Government intends to procure additional dredging facilities and to distribute the equipment to various major water bodies. This will improve the state and condition of the waterways. Further, my ministry will procure large water vessels for Lakes Bangweulu and Tanganyika to ease water transportation on these large lakes. In addition, programmes to improve handling facilities at the Port of Mpulungu and other harbours will be implemented. It is my firm belief that the development of the Mpulungu Port will contribute to increased trade with the Great Lakes Region. The Government will also construct and rehabilitate a number of marine infrastructure such as landing jetties, quays, passenger shelters and warehouses on a number of harbours across the country.

To ensure the efficient utilisation of water transport across the country, especially on Lakes Bangweulu and Mweru, my ministry will recapitalise the Bangweulu and Mweru Water Transport boards and transform them into commercially viable water transport companies. In this regard, the Government will also purchase passenger and cargo vessels for the Zambezi Waterways and Lakes Tanganyika, Mweru and Bangweulu. In order to bring marine transport services closer to the people, the Government will, in line with the Decentralisation Policy, establish harbour administrations for selected water bodies. This will ensure that the Government monitors the vessel operators to ensure that they comply with safety standards as prescribed in Chapter 466 of the Laws of Zambia. To ensure compliance with this legislation, the Government will procure a number of patrol boats for law enforcement officers.

The Governments of the Republic of Zambia and Angola will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development of the canal which connects Shang’ombo District in Zambia to Livungu District in Angola. On the Zambian side, the Government will construct a modern port at Shang’ombo. During the construction and operationalisation phases, a number of jobs will be created for the local people of Shang’ombo.

The Government, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Tanzania engaged TAZARA to review its corporate strategy aimed at revitalising its operations. In 2014, the Government will accelerate its effort to ensure that the two railway systems improve their efficiency and contribute to the movement of the bulk goods, thereby preserving the road infrastructure. The Government will also commence the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Mulobezi Railway Line. Bearing in mind the huge capital investment requirements in the rail sub-sector, the Government will continue to engage the private sector through the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative to open up the critical rail line corridors of Lobito, Nacala, Benguela and Walvis Bay.

We also have a regional obligation under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) as a member State to facilitate regional trade and develop transport corridor infrastructure. In this regard, I am happy to inform this august House that the construction of the Kazungula Bridge between Botswana and Zambia will commence in 2014.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is an important ingredient in building and facilitating increased productivity and competitiveness. It will always play a key role in achieving sustainable economic growth. My ministry is, therefore, determined to ensure that related infrastructure and services are evenly distributed countrywide, and become more affordable for the majority of the people. To this end, the Government, through ZICTA has implemented a programme to roll out, at least, 169 communication towers across the country in the coming year. As a way of introducing efficiency and reducing costs in the delivery of public services to our people, my ministry will introduce and implement a secure electronic e-Government platform which will enable citizens to electronically transact with the Government. This programme will be rolled out across Government departments and agencies.

The availability of accurate weather information is key for agriculture development, infrastructure maintenance and development as well as the alertness of the citizenry of Zambia. Thus, the ministry will, in 2014, continue investing in the procurement of meteorological equipment and the rehabilitation of meteorological stations, including the headquarters. My ministry will also continue to implement awareness and sensitisation programmes across the country. We will also go into researching on how we can be paid for the services that we provide.

In terms of works, my ministry will prioritise the completion of projects that were initiated in 2013. I wish to point out that the Buildings Department is overseeing the construction of new infrastructure in the new provincial centres of Choma in the Southern Province and Chinsali in Muchinga Province. Further, new infrastructure, including schools, health centres, roads, housing and office blocks, will be built in the newly-created districts. I also want to mention that, as a ministry, we have observed that there is a need to strengthen our capacity to supervise and monitor these projects at all levels. Consequently, the Buildings Department will be strengthened and decentralised to district level so as to ensure that it carries out this very important mandate. Additionally, my ministry will develop and implement an infrastructure maintenance policy to ensure that our investments are protected.

The recapitalisation of the Government Printing Department is one of the main programmes that will be implemented in 2014. My vision is to ensure that the Government Printing Department is strengthened to enable it to print the ballot papers for the 2016 General Elections.

We have made progress towards the achievement of this vision through the procurement of state-of-the-art printing equipment. The ministry will also construct a perimeter wall fence and procure closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to enhance security for the Government’s printing department. It is my belief that once this department is fully operational, all major printing jobs will be carried out within the borders of our country, resulting into huge savings. These savings will be reinvested into our economy. This will ultimately result in job creation for the Zambian population.

In conclusion, allow me to call upon all hon. Members to fully support this Vote and ensure that the 2014 budget proposal for my ministry delivered to this House becomes a reality.

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