Involvement of Road Users in the Management of Roads is one of the Road Maintenance Initiative's (RMI) Four Basic Building Blocks for development of a sustainable road sector in Sub-Saharan African countries; a building block without which sustainability may be far more difficult to attain. RMI has stated the specific objectives of road user involvement as;

This paper describes how "a Private/Public Partnership in Road Maintenance" has been introduced in Zambia, and shares with you our experience on the extent user involvement has met the objectives stated above and contributed towards development of a sustainable road sector.

The paper will, after a quick review of the situation in the road sector in the early 1990's give an outline of proposed policy reforms and the key features of the new institutional structure approved so far. It will follow with a more detailed overview of how the National Roads Board has organised its operations and built public support for the Road Fund and its actions. The paper will outline how the Board is now managing the planning and execution of a road maintenance programme and how the Board is taking part in the Road Sector Investment Programme (ROADSIP). The paper concludes with an assessment of the extent that a private/public sector partnership in management of roads in Zambia has met the initial objectives, and gives views on the further development of the road sector in Zambia.


In Zambia we have about 37,000 km of various classes of gazetted roads of which 21,000 are the responsibility of the Roads Department under the Ministry of Works and Supply (MWS), while the remainder are under the jurisdiction of District Councils. In addition there are about 30,000 km of ungazetted roads administered by local authorities. In 1987, about 40% of the primary road network in Zambia was in good condition. By 1990 the percentage of good roads had declined to 20%. The value of the Zambian road network was initially estimated at US$ 2.3 billion. It had during recent years to 1990 declined by more than US$400 million, due to neglect of maintenance. We have thus, during the last 30 years been, living off our assets of road infrastructure. It is estimated that about US$38 million will be required annually to avoid further losses.

The deterioration of our roads and the consequent loss of asset value, was mainly caused by inadequate funding. Road maintenance and other expenditures were financed from general tax revenues in competition with several other and obviously much more pressing demands on the tax revenue. Maintenance allocations had during the years up to 1993, declined to only about 15% of requirements. There was no clear price for roads, provision of roads was considered a social service.

Inadequate funding was further complicated by the poor institutional framework within which roads were managed. Poor conditions of service, lack of clearly defined responsibilities, ineffective and weak management structures and lack of managerial accountability all contributed to poor use of the meagre funds available. Engineers were poorly paid. Consequently, the roads department suffers from lack of suitably qualified and experienced staff to plan, programme, organise, monitor and regulate work undertaken by own forces as well as by private consultants and contractors. It has thus long been clear that the problem of road maintenance is not one of engineering but of policies and management.

An Inter-Ministerial Committee was assigned to manage the Road Maintenance Initiative in Zambia after we joined the RMI in 1991. It identified four key issues where major policy changes were necessary:

(i) Collection and disbursement of road maintenance funds;

(ii) Improving the operational efficiency of road maintenance;

(iii) Development of organisation and management of roads;

(iv)Improvement of staff retention, motivation and utilisation.


3.1 The RMI Seminar, February 1993

Policy reforms around the issues raised by the Inter-Ministerial Committee, were debated and formulated at the Zambia Road Maintenance Policy Seminar held from 16 - 19 February 1993 at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka. The participants at the seminar included high level representatives of the key ministries and donor organisations as well as a broad representation of the private sector. The recommendations endorsed by the seminar may be summarised under four main headings as follows:

(A) Financing Road Maintenance
A Road User Tariff should be introduced to provide adequate and dedicated funds for road maintenance, with the proceeds to be deposited in An Autonomous Road Fund.

A Board of Management should be established for administration of the Road Fund with members from key Government Ministries, the Chamber of Commerce, and from private sector road organisations. Independent auditors should audit the activities of the Road Fund.

(B) Organisation and Management of Roads An Autonomous Highway Authority should be established to take over responsibility for organisation and management of the nation's road network. The Authority shall be administered by a Board to be appointed by the President. One third of the members should represent Government Departments and local authorities, while the remaining shall comprise representatives of private sector stakeholders. The Board should report to the Ministry designated to be responsible for the Authority.

Sound Business Practices should be adopted by the Authority, including competitive tendering for required works and services, commercial accounting systems, and auditing by qualified external auditors.

(C) Improving Operational Efficiency
  Private Sector Involvement in maintenance should be increased by instituting an appropriate business environment for use of consultants and contractors, and for involving the private sector in efforts to attain better use of government plant and equipment.
Use of Labour Based Work Methods should be facilitated to the extent feasible by proactive Government policies and regulations.
(D) Staff Incentives and Training Terms and Conditions of Employment to be established by the proposed autonomous Road Authority and Board, should be sufficiently competitive, and performance related to attract, motivate and retain Zambian staff with the necessary qualifications and competence, and facilitate dismissal of non-performing staff.

A Training Organisation should be developed that; with full use of available facilities and capacity, will be able to support adequate and sustainable training of managers and other personnel for the road sector.

Notable features of the seminar were the funding by FINNIDA organisation by Zambia Institute of Management, and preparation and presentation of most key papers by Zambian consultants and representatives of stakeholder organisations. Politicians were involved at every stage of the seminar, and the diplomatic community actively participated and supported the initiative. Key ministry and department officials were invited to participate in the deliberations of the seminar. Above all, private sector contractors, consultants, road users such as truck, taxi, and transport operators, and road user associations were invited to deliberate. The World Bank RMI consultants assisted in the preparatory work and in facilitating the formulation of action plans to achieve results.

3.2 The New Institutional Structure

The policy reforms implemented so far include an autonomous Road Fund with a dedicated Road Tariff as its financing instrument, and the National Roads Board. The Road Fund was established under the Finance (Control and Management) Act with a fuel levy as its main instrument. The fuel levy was implemented from 1st May 1993 with K10 (about one US cent) per litre of diesel and gasoline. This was increased to K40 (about four US cents) per litre. From 1997 the fuel levy is stated as a percentage of the wholesale price of fuel. Currently 15%. In 1998 it is proposed that all road user charges ( Transit tolls, wieghbridge fines, licensing fees) be channelled to the Road Fund.

The National Roads Board was established under the Roads and Road Traffic Act (Cap 766) in early 1994, to administer and manage the Road Fund. The Act specifies that the National Roads Board should include 7 Board members who are nominees of each of the following non-governmental organisations:

  1. Zambia Chambers of Commerce and Industries
  2. Automobile Association of Zambia
  3. Zambia National Farmers Union
  4. Transport and Truckers Associations
  5. Engineering Institution of Zambia
  6. Copperbelt University and
  7. The Chartered Institute of Transport (Zambia)
The Act specifies that in addition to the seven (7) Board members, there should be five (5) Ex Officio Members being the nominees of the Ministries responsible for Communications and Transport, Works and Supply, Local Government and Housing, Finance, and the National Commission for Development Planning. It is notable that these Ex Officio Members have the right to participate but have no right to vote.

This user dominated Board represents a major change of policy in Zambia, a deliberate attempt to hand over ownership and responsibility for roads to the private sector as far as management and financing of maintenance is concerned, and to create a partnership between the private and public sector for the management of roads.

The Board meets monthly and makes recommendations on policy issues to a Committee of Ministers which includes the Minister of Communications and Transport who is the Chairman, the Minister of Works and Supply who is responsible for main roads, the Minister of Local Government and Housing who is responsible for District Council roads and feeder roads, and the Minister of Energy and Water Development who is responsible for fuel levy collection. I will in this context emphasise that the Roads Board is equally concerned with city streets and rural feeder roads, as with the main road network.

At the initial stages, there were problems in the collection of the fuel levy, misunderstanding on the reason for the introduction of the levy and the Road Fund, and for what purposes the proceeds from the levy should be used. The Ministry of Finance stopped all budget support to the road sector under the assumption that all financial obligations had been taken over by the Road Fund. The Board met with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance where it was agreed that the proceeds from the fuel levy were only meant to assist in financing maintenance of the road network, while road rehabilitation, construction and technical assistance would as before be financed by the Ministry through release of budgeted funds from the consolidated budget.

I am pleased to report that since then we have had no problems in the collection of fuel levy proceeds to the Fund, and that we have enjoyed very good cooperation from all Ministries involved particularly the Ministry of Finance.

About 3 months after the inauguration of the National Roads Board, the road user dominated Board recommended and got approval from the Committee of Ministers, for an increase of the fuel levy from K10 to K30 (3 US cents), and later to K40 (4 US cents) per litre. Now 15% of the fuel price. This has increased the Road Fund's income to US$ 1.3 million per month and has transferred the pressure from financing to preparation of acceptable spending programmes. The Zambian Cabinet has, in order to secure and streamline the collection of the fuel levy, directed the oil companies to credit the levy proceeds directly to the Road Fund account every 10 days.

The smooth implementation and harmonisation of the new institutional structure so far, i.e. the Fuel Levy, Road Fund, and National Roads Board, must largely be credited to timely assistance and facilitation by the RMI Task Managers, past and present, at the World Bank. Through discussions and diplomatic interventions, they have helped to clarify issues, resolve conflicts and build a truly winning team intent on succeeding. The temporary financing of the National roads Board's secretariat by RMI to secure the secretariat's independence, has also been an important factor.


4. 1 Organisation

The National Roads Board is made up of the Chairman, Vice Chairman, five (5) members and 5 Ex Officio members from the public sector. The Chairman and Vice Chairman were elected by the Board at its first meeting with the first Chairman being the representative of the Chartered Institute of Transport while the Vice Chairman represents the Automobile Association of Zambia. The members report back to their constituents on the proceedings of the Board and get feed back from their respective organisations. For example, the member representing Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industries circulates his notes from Board Meetings to the Chambers' members, gets feedback and reports back to the Board the aspirations and views of his constituents. Ex-Officio members likewise circulate Board papers and minutes to key officials of the Ministries and provide feed back at the Board Meetings. The Donor community too is informed periodically of the proceedings of the Board.

The National Roads Board has been in existence for three years. In line with the Statutory instrument that set up the NRB, the Minister requested the private sector organisations to nominate persons to represent them on NRB, for the next three-year term. Some organisations chose to nominate new persons to represent them on the Board. It is important to note that persons on the Board are not nominated by the Minister but by the organisations. The new Boards first order of business was to elect a Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

The strength of the National Roads Board is in its efficient, dynamic and proactive secretariat consisting of an Executive Secretary, an Accountant and a Personal Secretary. We maintain a very thin but efficient and effective Secretariat. Our strategy is to work with and through the existing organisational framework. Cabinet has given the responsibility of co-ordinating the Road Sector Investment Program (ROADSIP) to the National Roads Board (NRB) as Government has recognised the effectiveness of the Board. To ensure that the National Roads Board can perform this function and discharge the extra duties assigned to it, Government has agreed that NRB can charge the costs of its operations against the Road Fund provided the costs do not exceed 5 per cent. The National Roads Board will work with the Roads Department, Department of Infrastructure and Support Services and the private sector in implementing ROADSIP.

One aspect of the strategy adopted by the National Roads Board to transfer the sense of ownership and responsibility for management of roads from Government to the road users, has been to establish a number of task forces or committees which provide opportunity for participation by various sectors and platforms for interest groups. The following committees have been established for this purpose.

    1. Technical Committee
    2. Inter-Ministerial Finance Committee
    3. Committee on Weighbridges
    4. Committee on Traffic Fines
    5. Committee on International Transit Tolls
    6. Donor Community Consultative Group
    7. Co-ordinating Committee on Transport Engineering and Technical Assistance Project (TETAP)
These committees are made up of technical experts from the various interest groups, which through advice in their respective areas, facilitate the building of consensus on how to solve the various tasks and win public support, acceptance, credibility and recognition for increased road spending. For example, the Committee on International Transit Tolls has been working on the privatisation of the collection of Transit Tolls; the Committee on Weighbridges has come up with policy reforms including new procedures, documentation, training programme, and funding for enforcement of axleload regulations with heavy penalties and sanctions against habitual offenders. The Weighbridges are now operated on a 24-hour basis as part of the road maintenance programme, and privatisation of Weighbridges is now under discussion. A new procedure to streamline and co-ordinate Traffic Police, Road Traffic Commission, Road Safety Council, and voluntary Road Traffic Inspectors has been initiated and is to be implemented on Cabinet approval.

4.2 Policy Guidelines

A first Task of the National Roads Board has been to formulate policy guidelines and procedures for disbursement of funds from the Road Fund for approval by the Board and the Committee of Ministers on Road Maintenance Initiative. The approved policy guidelines for disbursement of funds from the fuel levy are as follows:

These policy guidelines are being revised in view of the new role of National Roads Board to co-ordinate the ROADSIP. 4.3 Financial Management

The National Roads Board, aware of the large amounts of money in the Road Fund, calls for tenders to open bank accounts from 21 commercial banks in the country at the beginning of every year. Based on the Tender Evaluation, the Board opens six (6) bank accounts with six banks for the following different sources of funding.

1. Fuel Levy Account

2. Budget Allocation/Government funding Account

3. Donor funding Account

4. International Transit Tolls Account

5. Traffic Fines Account

6. Weighbridges Account

National Roads Board operates all these accounts. Cheques are signed by 2 signatories; one form Panel A and another from Panel B. Panel A consists of the Chairman, Executive Secretary and RMI National Co-ordinator who is also the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications and Transport. Panel B comprises the Principal Accountant and Senior Accountant from the Ministry of Communications and Transport, and the Accountant of the National Roads Board.

4.4 Transparency and Accountability

The cardinal principle and the driving force of the National Roads Board is transparency and accountability in transactions we make. This has been achieved by the following measures:

  1. Continuous dialogue with key players, stakeholders and road users; to explain our mission, direction, programme, problems and progress. Recently, when members of Parliament raised a barrage of questions about disbursement of funds by the National Roads Board, we decided to meet the members of Parliament to explain the mission, direction and programme of the National Roads Board. This enabled the Board to win over and involve the members of the Parliament in the management of roads in Zambia.
  2. Inviting the implementing agencies including District Councils, to participate in various committees to discuss and formulate action plans for road maintenance; instituting a bottom up participatory planning procedure for maintenance at District, Provincial and National level. We further circulate Board Meeting Minutes and Committee Meeting Minutes to all the key players including the donor community.
  3. Calling for tenders before awarding any contracts for supply of road maintenance works and procurement of materials and services, even in the case of opening bank accounts. We publicise the procedure of payment to inform all the key players.
  4. Ensuring that all payments are certified by Consulting Engineers, approved by implementing agencies, and pre-audited by Auditors before submission for consideration by the National Roads Board. The Auditor General audits the Boards Accounts, quarterly and annually in addition to pre-audits of all transactions.
  5. Advocating the privatisation of International Transit Tolls collection and of Weighbridge fines collection. A potentially key issue is the involvement of the key players in the recruitment of personnel to staff the secretariat of the National Roads Board.
4.5 Building Public Support

An important element in the strategy to involve road users in management of roads and win their support, was the launching of a supplement in the two daily newspapers to inform the public on the establishing of the National Roads Board. This has been followed up by monthly press releases in the form of an advertisement, to inform the public on Board activities and the funding for road maintenance by the Board. This has led to roads becoming one of the most hotly debated issues in the press. Politicians, Councillors, Contractors, Consultants, Road Users and Newspaper Editors continuously write in the papers on road maintenance. Road users have been sensitised to the extent that no day passes without some news about roads in the Daily and Weekly print and Electronic media.

Another initiative to inform, involve and win public support for adequate road management, has been the launching of a weekly radio programme on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporations national service in English and seven local languages. This programme informs on actions taken and progress achieved in road maintenance management through the contribution made by the public by way of the Road Tariff and the Road Fund. These programmes are not funded by the Board but are sponsored by stakeholders, key players and road users.

The Committee of Ministers has added additional responsibility by handing over the task of supervising and co-ordinating the Transport Engineering and Technical Assistance Project (TETAP), delayed for over 18 month, to the National Roads Board. The Board was charged with initiating and overseeing the preparation of a document for a major road sector rehabilitation project which has been launched under the auspices of the World Bank with multidonor financing.

One source of the National Roads Board's strength has been the major donors unwavering support for institutional and policy reform. Some donors have even at one instance withdrawn pledged funding for road rehabilitation and maintenance programmes until the Government had stopped interfering in the functioning of the National Roads Board. The EU suspended funding for the rehabilitation of 1,000 km of feeder roads until it was clear that the National Roads Board was functioning in a way that allows for maintenance of roads once they are rehabilitated. A donor referred a tender evaluation, submitted by the Ministry of Works and Supply for Donor funding, to the National Roads Board for a second opinion.

The first 4 km of the USAID funded reconstruction of the Lusaka City -Kafue road was completed with dual carriageway and all necessary furniture some time ago. However, one month after commissioning, the street furniture was vandalised and the donor naturally refused to fund the repair. The NRB initiated the repair and approached the community in the area to arrange for protection of the road. The Chairman of the Community Association went on our radio programme to sensitise the people, and deployed night patrol teams to prevent further vandalism. I am proud to say that this road is now a showpiece.


5.1 The National Programme of Road Maintenance (NPRM)

The National Roads Board launched a road user driven National Programme of Road Maintenance in Zambia. This programme was launched through the nine Provincial Road Engineers and the 74 District Councils in the country. Under this programme, the Board pledged K7 billion for maintenance of roads as phase I up to December, 1995. In 1996 the Board pledged a total of K18 billion for maintenance of roads as Phase 11 up to December 1996. In 1997 the Board commissioned road works to the tune of K22 billion.

The road users represented in the District and Provincial co-ordinating Committees, and through the Provincial Roads Engineers submit a programme of maintenance for Main and Trunk roads. This programme is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Works and Supply through the Director of Roads. Funding of maintenance of Main and Trunk roads is done by the Board on a continuous basis on submission of a programme and cost estimates recommended by the Director of Roads.

The maintenance of District or Urban roads and Feeder roads is funded through the 61 District Councils. The Board believes that the District Councils are the best fore at grass root level for road users to participate in the management of roads. The elected

representatives at the 62 District, 9 Municipal and 3 City Councils, discuss the proposed programmes of road maintenance drawn up by respective Directors of Works in the Councils, agree on priorities, and thus participate actively in the management of roads. The elected representatives further participate in the formulation of procedures for inviting tenders, in the evaluation and selection of winning tenders, and approve awarding of contracts on basis of the recommendation of Consulting Engineers.

The National Roads Board (NRB) has a deliberate policy of developing indigenous contractors to enter the market for road maintenance. In 1995 the National Roads Board had problems in getting contractors to the provinces. National Roads Board encouraged entrepreneurs to enter the market and in 1996 contractors were developed to the extent that the majority of the country has been covered. The quality of workmanship has also improved. Although there is need to improve on this aspect there is need for further work by Consultants and Contractors to improve delivery.

Supervision of quality of work, appointment of contractors and recommending payments on submission of completion certificates, are part of managerial tasks performed by elected Councillors representing the road users. Money pledged is not, however, paid to Councils but paid to Contractors on submission of certificates of completion approved by Councils, Consulting Engineers and the Ministry of Local Government and Housing.

The road maintenance programme in Ndola, the Commercial City of Zambia, is an interesting case showing the impact of involvement of the users in road management. The Councillors wanted to terminate the services of the Director of Engineering and the Town Clerk for alleged poor workmanship on road maintenance. The National Roads Board had pledged K120 million to Ndola City Council for road maintenance, and the Provincial Road Engineer was contracted to do the job with FINNRA Consultants providing consultancy services. As the work progressed the road users blocked the main city road and rejected the quality of work due to excessive dust pollution. The City Council was thus forced to stop the work. The Councillors met and endorsed the road users view and resolved to fire the Director of Engineering and Town Clerk. They further demanded that the work be done by a private contractor who was doing reconstruction work on the main highway leading into Ndola. The Chairman of the National Roads Board intervened and facilitated a solution through discussions with the Mayor, the Consultants and the Contractors. The situation was corrected and the roadwork progressed. Ndola thus became a model in our road maintenance programme, showing how road users could take active part in the management of roads as watchdogs of quality in design and execution of road maintenance works.

The Secretariat of the National Roads Board held a series of discussions with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Zambia to work with and through them to ensure that the National Programme of Road Maintenance could be implemented effectively and efficiently. The Association of Consulting Engineers of Zambia agreed to the following Terms of Reference:

    1. Agree on a programme of road maintenance and order of priority.
    2. Agree on procedures to be followed in calling for Tenders.
    3. Assist in Tendering and Evaluating.
    4. Negotiate with winning Tenderers.
    5. Agree on the selection of contractors.
    6. Negotiate and agree on Terms of contract.
    7. Ensure implementation to set time frame and deadlines.
    8. Assist and monitor progress of road works to ensure total quality management.
    9. Certify payments at each stage of road works on having completely satisfied as regards quality of work done.
    10. Assist Councils to undertake measures to control and reduce cost of road works and maintenance through consulting services.
    11. Advise Councils on Undertaking preventive maintenance activities to promote the quality and life span of road infrastructure.
The Association of Consulting Engineers also agreed to the following indicators to evaluate the performance of consultants:
    1. Quality of Programme drawn up.
    2. Time frame for implementation.
    3. Unit cost of road works undertaken.
    4. Quality of work done.
    5. Volume of work done.
    6. Public Relations and involvement of community.
    7. Preventive maintenance activities.
Above all, the Association of Consulting Engineers of Zambia was negotiated with to offer us a special consulting fee of 2.5% of the total value of works as against the legislated schedule ranging as high as 15% of contract value, as their contribution to this urgent task of road maintenance.

This is again an example of the strategy adopted by the Board to involve the professionals through their Associations and thereby broaden the base for management of roads in Zambia to ensure efficiency and appropriate quality. Most of the consulting firms have performed well. However, some have been a disappointment. The National Roads Board had to terminate the services of two consulting firms. As the study by KAMSAX into the consulting industry has noted "presently there is sufficient capacity with Consultants even though their experience in road work is somewhat limited. However, in case of substantial expansion of the construction market a shortage of Zambian engineers would materialise".


The Committee of Ministers on Road Maintenance resolved in a meeting in April 1995, that the Ministry of Works and Supply (MOOS) should set up a team that with World Bank assistance, would prepare a bankable document to access donor financing for rehabilitation of the Road Sector. A figure of US $800 million was mentioned as a desirable target for a five to seven year program. The MWS in turn requested the National Roads Board to organise the preparation of the project document.

A National Task Force under the Chairmanship of National Roads Board was constituted to prepare a Draft Bankable Document to access Donor funding to launch a 5 year Road Sector Investment Programme. The National Task Force is a good example of Private/public sector co-operation.

10 members of the National Task Force comprising Consultants from private sector and top officials from Government Ministries worked for 6 months to produce a draft document.

The draft document was presented at a National Workshop attended by 175 participants from all the key players and stakeholders.

The official Communique of the workshop called "Roads 2001 - The Way Forward" is another example of Private/Public sector participation in funding road maintenance as a pre-requisite to "economic take - off". The Road Sector Investment Program has been launched with workshops in all the provinces and with rehabilitation works in the capital Lusaka. An agreement has been signed with the World Bank for an initial $70 million. Other donors have made pledges of up to $400 million.


The Zambian experience with involvement of road users in management of roads includes three years of operation by the National Roads Board. We have seen no less than a revolution of the institutional structure and of how management of roads in Zambia is exercised, the output in terms of improved infrastructure is being realised. I am proud that we in Zambia have managed to take the first and most crucial step towards developing adequate and sustainable road services as we have;

While other neighbouring countries may have road networks in far better condition than Zambia, often through donor financed rehabilitation, we may have a headstart on them in implementing institutional arrangements for sustainable financing and management of an adequate road network. The key feature is the unique and extraordinary commitment and co-operation between the public and private sectors.

The Government has recognised the effectiveness of the National Roads Board and has therefore assigned to it primary responsibility for overseeing implementation of ROADSIP. This is acknowledgement that a Public/Private partnership can work and be instrumental in the maintenance and rehabilitation of infrastructure.

I will as my concluding remark, wish that I, or my successor as Chairman of the National Roads Board in Zambia, will in a few years, report on the tangible results of the policy reforms in Zambia. I am confident that they will be spectacular both in terms of improvement in the road network condition as in management and execution of maintenance programmes.