By Dr Lubinda Haabazoka
I come in peace with one of my last contributions…
Yesterday it was announced that government had signed a PPP for the Ndola Lusaka Dual carriageway.
The total cost of the project is $600m and that the private party we construct three more toll gates making a total of 6 toll points before reaching Ndola from Lusaka. It is expected that the private party will collect these monies for the next 25 years.
The first time a PPP was advertised for this road, a company came in and offered to build the same road for $1.2bn. Amongst other features they proposed to build were bridges, bypasses around Kabwe and Kapiri, service stations, hotels among other things.
This time the private party will build three service stations, two bridges and 2 bypasses.
What am really worried is that it’s not a known secret that a serious road is $1m per kilometre depending on the nature of the road. The distance between Ndola and Lusaka is 640 km for a dual carriageway. Bridges will be built. Bypass around Kabwe and kapiri will also add to the cost. Is the $600m really adequate for this project? Are we going to get a good deal and many features from the private party? Mind you we shall have to pay them for 25 years straight years!!!!
I know that you are asking why I want an expensive road. In PPPs you choose a project with more features and this is usually the most expensive because regardless of the costs, your tender has fixed concession period and toll fee rates. So to enjoy more, you pick the most expensive project.
For example you have a plot and advertise it to people to build a house there, live in it for ten years and then give the house back to you. One person says they will build a 3 bedroom house for k400,000. The other one says an upstairs 6 bedroom house with a swimming pool that will cost k2m. You choose the upstairs because if built, both cases will occupy the house for ten years!!!!
I just hope you get quality works and full completion of the project without any budget variations that will lead the private party to ask for extension of the concession period.
Then again, a road is a public good. We need to start thinking of alternative routes for motorists who pay tax and expect government to build roads for them to drive on them for free. We can’t monetise movements for all. Alternative routes should be created.
Like I said, I come in peace.
This information is for illustration purposes.