Great North Road, Zambia
|Great North Road|
Map showing the Great North Road through Zambia
|Transport in Zambia|
The Great North Road is a major route in Zambia, running north from Lusaka through Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi (the road continues by way of a right turn just north of Kapiri Mposhi), Serenje, Mpika (where it makes a left turn), Kasama, Mbala and Mpulungu. 82km North of Mpika is a signposted right turn onto a well maintained gravel road leading to Shiwa Ng'andu (12km) and Kapishya Hot Springs (32km). The road from Zambia's border with Zimbabwe at Chirundu to Lusaka is now regarded as being part of the Great North Road; but this is only since the opening of the Chirundu Bridge in 1939 - before that, the Great North Road ran through Bulawayo and Livingstone to Lusaka, as part of the original Cape to Cairo Red Line by Cecil John Rhodes. The portion from Mbala to Mpulungu could be regarded as a spur linking to the Lake Tanganyika steamer service which was popular with travellers up to the 1950s.
When the Mpika-Tanzania highway (the Tanzam Highway) via Tunduma was upgraded in the 1960s and provided a good route through to Dar es Salaam and Arusha, this section became known as the Great North Road rather than the Mpika-Mbala section which might be referred to as the Old Great North Road.
In the centre of Lusaka, the Great North Road is named Cairo Road and this became the city's business and commercial centre, and busiest thoroughfare, now by-passed by heavy goods vehicles for through traffic by Lumumba Road.
There are areas where the road may have a specific street name, like Cairo Road and Kafue Road in Lusaka Province and Mosi-oa-Tunya Road and Lusaka Road in Livingstone. For areas without a street name, like quiet areas in between towns, the road is simply named as the Great North Road on Maps.
Old and New Routes
The Great North Road of Zambia used to consist of three routes, namely the T1 Road, T2 Road and M1 Road, from Livingstone to Mbala. But Today, Zambia's Great North Road is formed by only one route, which is the T2 Road from Chirundu to Nakonde.
The Old and New Route in Southern Zambia
As sources may show, there are two roads in Southern Zambia which are named Great North Road, one going south-west and one going south-east.
The first one is the T1 Lusaka–Livingstone road, which goes south-west from Kafue to Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. It was part of the original Cape to Cairo Red Line made by Cecil Rhodes and is also known as the old route.
The second one is the direct road to Chirundu from Kafue, as part of the T2 Road. After the Chirundu Bridge was completed in 1939 to provide access to Harare (Capital of Zimbabwe), it became the new Great North Road.
As of 2019, both roads, from Chirundu/Harare and from Livingstone/Bulawayo, are still named Great North Road by people and businesses. The Road proceeding through Harare is part of the Cape to Cairo Road while the road proceeding to Livingstone is part of the Cairo-Cape Town Highway (both routes have Cape Town as their endpoint).
The Old and New Route in Northern Zambia
As sources may show, there are two roads in Northern Zambia which are named Great North Road.
The first one is the north-south road from Mpika, through Kasama, to Mbala, designated as the M1 Road. The other one is the northeast-southwest road from Mpika, through Isoka, to Nakonde, which is part of the T2 Road.
When the Mpika-Tanzania Highway via Nakonde and Tunduma was upgraded in the 1960s and provided a good route through to Dar es Salaam and Arusha, this section became known as the Great North Road rather than the Mpika-Mbala section. Because of this, the Mpika-Mbala section may be referred to as the Old Great North Road.
The route through Nakonde is part of both the Cape to Cairo Road (famed road) and the Cairo-Cape Town Highway (proposed Trans-African Highway network route), which makes it more suited to use the name Great North Road.
The Hell Run
During the Zimbabwean Liberation War the border with Rhodesia was closed, disrupting the importation of goods and fuel to landlocked Zambia and the export of copper. The Great North Road was the only route by which goods and fuel could be imported from the port of Dar es Salaam. Because of the bad condition of the road from Kapiri Mposhi to Tanzania and the many accidents that occurred the truck drivers called this stretch of the Great North Road "The Hell Run". Later, the Tazama Pipeline, commissioned in 1968, and the TAZARA Railway, opened in 1975, meant the use of the Great North Road for the transport of cargo destined for Zambia was much reduced.
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