28 June 2012

Zambia: Lufwanyama Cries for Better Road

A BETTER road network is the 'life blood' of any particular area in attaining economic development. This is what many people believe or say.

Others say, "where there is a better road network, economic development follows".

Descriptions of the relationship between the road network and economic development are many, so the outlined sayings are just a few, but they all mean one thing.

Many places in Zambia have the potential for economic development but deplorable roads prevent them from seeing the deserved development because investors who could tap their resources and turn them into meaningful development, don't go there due to the poor state of the roads, leaving the natural resources in those areas dormant for many years.

One such area is Lufwanyama District on the Copperbelt. No doubt everyone would believe that a place which is endowed with precious stones can also have tremendous potential of getting more economic development.

Apart from precious stones, the district has got a lot of timber and fertile soils among other good natural resources that could make it see the most needed economical development to the benefit of the locals as well as the entire nation.

However, this is not the case with Lufwanyama, which has a lot of lucrative natural resources but has no tarred road, a situation that has makes a lot of residents make passionate pleas over the matter.

Travelling from Kalulushi to Lufwanyama boma and beyond is always a nightmare as one has to rattle several times on the bumpy, dusty and rough road before reaching the destination.

These are among other challenges that the road users of this road undergo every day. The road is a key one and is well known by the Government; it is the popular Kalengwa Road that links Copperbelt and North-Western Province.

Towards the end of the reign of the MMD government, just a few weeks before the September 20, 2011 elections, the then president Rupiah Banda commissioned the tarring of Kalengwa Road from Kalulushi to Lufwanyama. The MMD had contracted a South African company called Inyatsi Contractors.

At the commissioning of the works at Kamakonde, a place near Kalulushi town, Mr Banda said the tarring of Kalengwa Road was meant to save the people of Lufwanyama from untold misery they had been going through due to the poor road that used to be impassable in the rainy season.

He added that the tarred road would also open up the economy of the district as many motorists would be going there to conduct various businesses since the district has got a lot of natural resources, including timber.

Mr Banda said his Government was aware of the challenges people of Lufwanyama District had been facing, especially in terms of transportation of people as well as their farm produce to the market in urban areas such as Kalulshi, Kitwe and other places on the Copperbelt.

"My Government, the MMD is aware of the challenges that our people in Lufwanyama District face in terms of transport. It is for this reason that today we are here to commission the paving, grading and building of this road to a bituminous state so that, once it is completed, transportation problems will be a thing of the past for our people in the Lamba land," Mr Banda said amidst ululation from would-be beneficiaries.

The development had cheered people in Lufwanyama and Kalulushi because they would now ride smoothly on the road.

The then Lufwanyama District Council chairperson Job Hajindila said that he was excited about the move because he knew that a good road network had the potential of opening up the area to economic development by investors of various types who had taken their investments to the district.

Mr Hajindila further observed that the tarring of the road would reduce the congestion of traffic on Kitwe-Solwezi Road since some motorists would use Kalengwa Road to and from North-Western Province.

He added that the flow of traffic in Lufwanyama would enhance the economy as the circulation of cash would increase, since motorists and travellers alike would spend their money while in transit.

And when the Patriotic Front (PF) Government came into power on September 20 last year with President Micheal Sata, it decided to continue with the project under the same contractor.

But up to now, there is little development seen on the road, a situation that has now raised concern among residents and motorists alike.

Driving on this road now, especially from the Kalulushi side, one would see some machinery for Inyatsi along the road working on the road and some workers directing traffic, but the works do not seem to be progressing towards completion.

In an interview, Boyd Daka, who is the current Lufwanyama Council chairperson, at one point commended the contractors that they were doing a very commendable job, hoping that they would complete the project in due course.

Mr Daka said he was pleased because Inyatsi Contractors had exhibited hard work and experience as the company was even working during the rainy season unlike other contractors who had suspended works awaiting the end of the rains before continuing with the paving and grading of the road.

He also expressed similar sentiments to his predecessor that once the road was completed it was going to attract more economic development through its vast natural resources.

It is a little bit of an unfascinating situation for the residents and motorists of Lufwanyama that their most desired need has not been completed up to now and that their nightmare of a bad road has continued.

Chiefs in the area have also been quoted in the media appealing to the Government to have Kalengwa Road tarred.

Recently, the two chiefs, Shimukunami and Fungulwe again appealed to the Government to compel the contractor to spead up the works.

They made their respective appeals when Copperbelt Minister Davies Mwila called on them as he visited the district to see developments at the boma which seem to have stalled since the area was accorded district status about 15 years ago.

Indeed, Lufwanyama is a food basket of the copperbelt; people grow maize, sweet potatoes and cassava that they sell to the urban dwellers but the poor state of the road has not supported their livelihood effectively, as transportation to market places such as Kalulushi, Kitwe and other surrounding urban areas has been hampered.

Apart from people failing to access good transportation of their farm produce to the market, the people of Lufwanyama face challenges in transporting the sick when they are reffered to Kitwe Central Hospital from the rural health centres in the district.

Investigations revealed that in some communities such as Fungulwe, Mushingashi and beyond, patients were subjected to boarding trucks laden with huge sacks of maize and sweet potatoes, and in some instances livestock headed for the market place.

As if that is not enough, the same trucks are also prone to constant breakdowns before they reach Kitwe, thus worsening the condition of the patients.

It is the residents' hope that the PF Government will use every available resource at its disposal to complete the project in good time to help the people in both opening up the district for development and also ensuring smooth transportation of people.

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