In this interview, our reporter PAIDA MPASO engages Chilapondwa on the poor state of roads in most parts of the country.
Q1. As a Minister of Transport and Public works, what is your assessment of roads in this country?
A1. What do you want to say? I think you already have answers to your questions, if I were to put the question back to you what would you say? Anyway, I think the main problem is that as we are approaching the rainy season, most roads in Africa develop cracks and if the rain persists, it becomes even difficult to patch them up, that is why most roads are in poor state as we are talking right now.
Q2. But is that enough justification for the country to have poor roads?
Q2. When it’s raining, like the way it has been raining the past months, I am sure you were in this country, there is no way a contractor can continue to work or maintain a road. The continuous rains become distraction and the maintenance sort of stalls.
Q3. Is there a way of finding a lasting solution to this challenge because a lot of roads have potholes which are damaging vehicles and in some cases, causing accidents?
Q3. Together with the National Roads Authority, we are working on plans to have these roads patched up and some roads will be fully resurfaced. This is a long term strategy that we are going to roll out very soon. We know that some roads have outlived their life span, hence the extensive maintenance that will be done.
Q4. Why has it taken government so long to roll out this strategy considering that the roads have been in a poor state for a very long time?
Q4. There are so many reasons and I don’t have to go into the details and certainly, will not disclose when we are rolling out this strategy. Just know that it will happen.
Q5. Most roads in the country have a short lifespan, forcing people to speculate that corruption has hit the construction industry hard. What is your comment?
Q5. I will not comment on that and if you quote me on that, it will not be fair. But what I can say is that, we are demanding quality roads from our contractors. That has also come to our attention, and we have demanded that if a road begins to develop cracks a year after it was resurfaced, we do not pay that contractor and we have ever done that. Also note that we are not only focusing on damaged roads, but we are also working on our drainage system on the roads. We realised that these two go together because if drainage is poorly made, the flow of the water affects the durability of the roads such that, even if a road was strong, because of the water, it begins to develop some cracks. But as a minister, I can assure you that, we are on the ground making sure that our roads are in good condition.