THE highlight of the previous week was the HH hat trick, scored by President Hakainde Hichilema, with its high drama and surprising twists and turns.

The devastating results of the regional el-niño phenomenon and its resultant drought brought sorrow and destruction with predictions of nationwide hunger and distress, prompting government to declare it a national emergency.

The prolonged and unresolved debt negotiation process, described by President Hichilema as “a python around citizens’ necks, arms and legs” had made matters worse, with the kwacha exchange rate spiraling out of control despite the treasury’s spirited attempts to rein it in.

And then lo and behold, came Zesco knocking, casting a dark spell on the nation with its eight-hour-long load-shedding schedule.

It was all doom and gloom, whichever way you looked and despair was beginning to set in.

But almost miraculously, like an eclipse of the sun, darkness gave way to sunshine.

The opening goal of the HH hat trick and most significant is the $3.5 billion debt deal with Zambia’s bondholders, paving the way for Zambia’s debt restructuring.

Superlatives abound, with Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane calling the development “a milestone,” and Hichilema describing it as “historical.”

The agreement means Zambia can now breath, relieved of the chokehold that had threatened to see it blow off course into economic oblivion and chaos.

Resolution of the debt crisis opens the road to a $1.3 billion International Monetary Fund bailout, paving the way for a revival of financial flows and investment into the country.

The second goal leading to the trick goal, and equally significant, is the unlocking of the Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) impasse with the agreement between ZCCM-IH and International Resources Holdings (IRH).

The deal is projected to unlock production and expansion bottlenecks that will see the immediate injection of working capital of $620 million into MCM.

A projected $300 million will be spent on increasing production to around 200,000 tonnes in the next three years, against a steady but progressive decline in ore production – down from 87,618 tonnes in 2021 to 72,694 tonnes in 2022.

The third goal is the conclusion of the funding modalities between the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and Macro Oceans Investment Consortium (MOIC) for the $650 million upgrade of the Lusaka-Ndola highway.

With the rainy season out of the way, construction work on the highway can now begin in earnest, heralding what promises to be anew chapter in Zambia’s inter-city road infrastructural development.

Positive signs are already visible, such as this week’s signing of the bilateral agreement between Botswana and Zambia for the establishment of the Kazungula Bridge Authority (KBA).

Slowly but surely, Kazungula is fast becoming the route of choice for long-haul regional traffic, away from the traditional Beit Bridge route – which while shorter, is seen by many transporters as cumbersome.

By contrast, the KBA promises to streamline cargo traffic into a seamless one-stop facility with efficient customs and clearance procedures leveraging on smart internet-based tools, thereby shortening long waiting thresholds for truck inspection and clearance.

With more traffic flowing through Kazungula, it should not be rocket science to predict heightened pressure on the existing highway from Kazungula to Lusaka.

To this end, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Minister Charles Milupi and his team should not go to sleep, rejoicing the Lusaka-Ndola highway.

Instead, Milupi should see this as just the beginning.

He needs to broaden his outlook and start work towards developing bids for another PPP for the development of the Lusaka-Livingstone-Kazungula dual carriageway.

Until that is done, with the completion of Lusaka-Ndola, the increased traffic between Lusaka and Kazungula will result into bottleneck traffic jams of vehicles and trucks, unless a modern dual carriageway is constructed from Chilanga to the south.

Work on Lusaka-Kazungula does not have to wait for Lusaka-Ndola completion.

The two can be worked simultaneously, albeit, with Lusaka-Ndola enjoying significant head start.

Like it or not, work on Lusaka-Kazungula shall become urgently necessary, and therefore, the sooner, the better and the cheaper, rather than later.

Photo | The President's Facebook Page