Alick Nkhata Flyover Bridge is a scandal

 Alick Nkhata Flyover Bridge is a scandal

By Staff Writer
The Alick Nkhata Flyover Bridge is a scandal, a death trap and must be removed, an engineer Francis Mukuka has said.

Mr Mukuka had questioned the motive behind erecting a flyover where it was not necessary.

“Everything about that bridge is a scandal. It was not supposed to be there in the first place! Authorities must tell the nation what happened. Even after the construction, the technicalities show that it is not safe.

“That bridge was forced on the public and it is now a death trap. It must be removed. If it is because of the shopping mall under construction, just six way road lanes and roundabout could have been enough and not that scandal of a flyover that has been erected. We must be serious as a country,” he said.

He said it was sad that the flyover is now under reconstruction when the authorities and the Minister of Local Government came out to say it was safe.

Another Engineer Vitalis Mooya said there should be no short cuts on site.

Mr Mooya, a Civil Engineer with a bias towards constructions said what was happening along Alick Nkhata was a scandal.

The contentious bridge was opened on December 3, last year by Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo.

Soon after that, Local Government Permanent Secretary Ed Chomba told ZNBC that the flyover bridge should not be there. Whichever way they are going to make it and use it, they need to remove it before people start to die.

Bishop Chomba’s sentiments were echoed by numerous motorists in Lusaka.

A month ago, Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) president Abel Ng’andu told journalists that the Alick Nkhata flyover is a danger to motorists.

“I call it an anthill, somewhere in the Long Acres. That bridge is not something we really are proud of and we are going to constitute a committee to investigate that bridge.

“[From] preliminary findings, I can tell you that the bridge does not meet specifications of safety, of sight distances….” He said.

Long Acres Mall in Lusaka, whose client is the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF), was designed by GS Architects, and Palm Golding is the property consultant – all Zambian companies.

The Alick Nkhata Flyover is an ancillary of the imposing mall.

The main contractor is China State Engineering Corporation and is being constructed at an estimated cost of US $72 million.

During a tour at the construction site on April 13, 2018, the facility’s resident engineer Terrence Mukula branded the mall and auxiliary facilities as a “Zambian baby.”

“The architects or designers were GS Architects – a Zambian-based construction company. Actually this, I can safely say, is the first big development which has completely being designed by Zambians – except for the hotel which has some… by South Africans,” said Mr Mukula then.

“But the entire mall has been designed by Zambians. The architects are Zambians, the engineers are Zambians, the electrical and mechanical engineers are Zambians. So, it’s a pure Zambian baby designed by Zambian consultants and being supervised and managed by Zambian consultants. So, really it’s quite a milestone for our construction industry.”

Following public outcry, the flyover has been closed and is again under construction.

Asked to speak to the continuous agitation around the bridge, Mooya said: “EIZ has already condemned that bridge.”

“All these roads, bridges there are specifications and standards to follow.

If you don’t do that, then you experience what you are talking about (demolishing),” Mooya said in an interview.

“So, I agree with EIZ, and a number of people have complained about that bridge. We just have to follow standards. If you don’t follow standards,…. You get some money and there are strings attached there…. There are so many players there (at a construction site) and you don’t blame the engineer. He is not alone; it takes two to tango!”

He said even the client of the project, in this case the major client, which is the government, should play a role because: “the best engineer, but without funding, is useless.”

Asked about the needed elementary specifications and standards in constructing a flyover, Mooya answered that:

“it’s the width – it has to be wide for two vehicles to pass or overtake.”

“When I say standards, you have to consider even the slope and so forth. There should be no shortcut, if at all you really need a bridge. There should be no shortcut at all,” he explained.

“But I agree with the EIZ because that’s the mother body and I belong to that body. Government or any client, in general, must follow advice from the consultant engineer.

Otherwise no one should just bulldoze their way through that ‘let us have this and that.’”

Mooya added that: “the procurement system also plays a part in the construction sector.”

“If you get a wrong person through fronting, you always have these shoddy works. Any compromise results into sub-standard infrastructure. When you want to put up structures, materials which you want to use there must be tested – you have to cure concrete and everything. That’s what standards call for.”

He further noted that registration of contractors is also very important.

“You can’t get fake or powerful somebody to be a contractor. Ask yourself if the contractor can easily be controlled by [consultant] engineers,” Mooya said, adding that a client should not accept sub-standard structures from any contractor.

“The client is not conversant with construction and so everything hinges on the consultant. If a sub-standard house or bridge is handed over to a client, the client should not accept that. You can’t spend money on useless things! No! No! No! The client has the right to refuse.”

He underscored that the main point was that standards must be followed in construction.

“And this is not politics! I worked for 31 years as a civil servant in the Ministry of Works and Supply and then 15 years as a member of parliament [for Moomba Constituency],” said Mooya.

“So, I know what I’m talking about. I know where the problems are.”

When called to comment on the re-construction of Alick Nkhata flyover, Mukula referred this reporter to the PSPF.

PSPF corporate affairs manager Kalumba Chikonde promised to get to the bottom of the matter.

The Independent Observer

John Sakala is a Journalist yearning for independent journalism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.