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Travelling to Zambia by road dreadful

TRAVELLING from Chirundu to Lusaka in Zambia can be quite a nightmare for both passengers and drivers. I recently had a long trip by road to Lusaka for the annual April International Theatre Festival.

Report by Silence Charumbira recently in Lusaka

On the Zambian side, at Chirundu border post, customs and immigration procedures were smooth-flowing, save for an overzealous vehicle theft squad officer who in the name of “professionalism” delayed us for four hours.

His story was that the handwriting on the clearing letter made a G look like a digit [nine].

We had to wait for a fax with a clear G to be sent from Harare which was another nightmare because of the bad network.

To avoid the delay, the agents who had tried to assist us said the officers, both Zambian and Zimbabwean, allegedly solicited for US$100 bribes. But we could have none of that so we had to wait for the fax before proceeding with our journey.

Although travelling to another country can be exciting, long distances can be scary and tiring. What made the journey uncomfortable was the poor state of the road and its rugged terrain which made one hold his or her breath.

Drivers have to bear with potholes that have become a permanent feature on many African highways.

It is a tall order, especially for a foreign driver, to negotiate the meandering road between Siyavonga and Kafue.

We resorted to travelling behind a Zambian registered vehicle whose driver was conversant with the road while moving at a safe speed.

As we came closer to Kafue, towards the end of the mountainous area, it got worse but we had to find solace in the visible road markings.

Road maintenance workers were busy widening the tarmac whose edges have become too sharp and dangerous.

From Kafue to Lusaka there are some areas that still have dangerous potholes which one has to endure and try to avoid.

We encountered only three police check points, two of them mandatory between Chirundu and Lusaka. This was a huge relief considering the numerous roadblocks one has to bear with for a similar distance in Zimbabwe.

When we reached Lusaka, it suddenly appeared as if we were in a different country altogether.

The roads were better and we began to notice the massive construction projects going on in the city, a tell-tale sign of the economic transformation going on in the country.

Huge shopping malls such as Levy Junction, Mandahill, and Arcades have improved the overall outlook of the city. We stayed at the Barn Motel, along Great East Road.

The hosts were hospitable and it was good, while it lasted, not to have to worry about power and water cuts.

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