The Road Development Agency (RDA) is currently implementing the routine maintenance roll-out programme on selected bridges in Southern, Copperbelt and Northern provinces, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Permanent Secretary Eng. Danny Mfune has said.

Eng. Mfune said the plann to implement the roll-out programme in the remaining six other provinces is underway and works are expected to commence in the second or third quarter of 2022.

Eng. Mfune has also disclosed that the implementation of another pilot project for the repair of bridges is expected to commence in April 2022.

He said this in a speech read on his behalf by Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Assistant Director Planning and Monitoring Mr. Aaron Mutale in Lusaka during the JICA Technical Cooperation Project (TCP), 3rd Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) meeting.

“My Ministry is alive to the fact that in order to continue maintaining and repairing bridges, there is need to also build the capacity of our contractors, particularly the small scale contractors so that they can also effectively participate in routine maintenance and repair of bridges.

“To this effect my ministry will ensure that training programmes specifically for routine maintenance and repair of bridges should be introduced in our training institutions to ensure a more sustainable approach to the routine maintenance and repair of bridges in Zambia in order to preserve the integrity of our bridge infrastructure,” he said.

Eng. Mfune said in the past, unfortunately, very little emphasis was put on maintenance of bridges and as a result, there was still a good number of bridges requiring maintenance and repair.

Since 2015, the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Road Development Agency (RDA) in an effort to improve the maintenance of the bridges in the country, embarked on the bridge maintenance capacity building project which is supported by the Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The first phase of project commenced in February 2015 and was completed in August 2017.  Towards the end of phase one of project, the RDA through the Ministry requested to extend the project to include a second phase which was approved and was now under implementation.

He said phase two of the project was basically aimed at improving the capacity of the RDA to manage the maintenance and repair of bridges.

Phase two of the project commenced in March of 2019 and the support for this project from JICA was expected to come to an end in 2024.

Eng. Mfune assured the Government of Japan and JICA that the knowledge obtained from this project shall be put to good use and the Zambian Government through his ministry shall endeavour to continue to provide for the maintenance and repair of bridge infrastructure in a sustainable manner.

RDA Director and Chief Executive Officer Eng. George Manyele who is also JICA TCP Project Director said the purpose of the Joint Technical Committee of this project was to consider the annual work plan of the project and its budget and review the progress of the annual work plan.

Eng. Manyele said the Committee was also tasked with the review and discussion of major issues that come up during implementation of the project and discuss any other issues pertinent to the smooth implementation of the project.

He said due to COVID-19 pandemic, some of the planned activities under the project had either been suspended or halted. 

“Nevertheless, there are still some successes that have been scored under this projects such as, three on the job training held in 2019, the first seminar on bridge repair held in November 2019 and Joint Coordinating Committees (JCCs), Technical Working Groups (TWGs), Counterpart Working Groups (CWGs) and coordination meetings held to date, ” he said.

Eng. Manyele said due to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, it had been proposed that the project be extended for at least a year to allow for the smooth completion of the project.

JICA Chief Representative Mr. Kazuhiko Tokuhashi appreciated the commitment by the Zambian Government and the RDA towards organizing the meeting aimed at disseminating processes and procedures on bridge maintenance under the project.

Mr. Tokuhashi also bemoaned the impact of the COVID-19 which had affected the implementation of the project in the last two years.

He said Zambia was prone to recording a number of bridges collapsing during the rainy seasons and it was expected that this would be a thing of the past when the project is successfully rolled out.

Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Assistant Director Planning and Monitoring Mr. Aaron Mutale delivering a speech on behalf of Permanent Secretary Eng. Danny Mfune, on his  immediate right is the Road Development Agency (RDA) Director and Chief Executive Officer Eng. George Manyele and  (left )JICA Chief Representative Mr. Kazuhiko Tokuhashi