17 December 2012

Zambia: Rea Improves Chipata Rural Life

The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) is improving people's lives among rural communities who are beginning to see an improvement in socio economic activities.

Kalichero area in Chipata District is one such area where the REA installed a K7.7 billion 22.8 kilvolts power extension line which was constructed recently.

The electricity grid which benefitted more than 48 both residential and commercial entities has seen an improvement of a number of activities.

And later when he inspected the power grid in Kalichero, chairperson Jorry Mwenechanya heard that health personnel used to experience a number of challenges in the delivery of health services at Muzeyi Rural Health Centre.

One of the beneficiaries of the Kalichero electricity connection grid is Muzeyi Rural Health Centre.

Bibiana Mambwe who is sister in-charge told a team of REA board members who inspected the installation of power in the area that the provision of electricity would improve the delivery of quality health care to communities in the area.

The REA team which was led by Professor Mwenechanya heard that the institution used to face challenges in operations because the solar power that was being used was not reliable.

She noted that the potency of vaccines that were supposed to be refrigerated at constant temperature was compromised because solar power did not provide the constant power required for the refrigeration of the vaccines.

Sister Mambwe also pointed out that patients who were HIV positive did not have satisfactory results when checking their CD4 count because the batteries that were being used for the machines were solar batteries that would sometimes go off when there was a cloud cover.

"We also used to find it difficult to attend to patients who had wounds at night because the lighting was poor and the pumping of water was a challenge," she said.

And Sister Mambwe said she was hopeful that the installation of power at the health facility would enable the health centre to construct a mortuary.

She said there was need to construct a mortuary due to the increased number of deaths of patients saying it was expensive to transport bodies to Chipata General Hospital which was about 20 kilometers from Muzeyi Rural Health Centre.

Meanwhile, Sisinje ward councillor Samuel Phiri thanked Government for responding to the cries of the people in the area.

Mr Phiri said villagers in the area had been for a long time crying for the installation of electricity.

He said the electrification of the health centre which attended to 3,800 patients each day would be good because it had been facing challenges in providing services to communities within a radius of 67 kilometers which include chiefs Mishoro, Jumbe, Mnukwa, Chinunda and Chikuwe's areas.

Prof Mwenechanya said the project was aimed at reducing urbanisation as it improved the quality of life among people in the rural area.

He observed that over dependency on charcoal and other unsustainable forms of energy was not only expensive but also had an environmental effect.

Prof Mwenechanya also expressed confidence that the electrification of the area would enhance economic activities required for the growth of the Chiparamba sub centre.

And Eastern Province acting Permanent Secretary Zachariah Luhanga observed that a number of villagers had benefitted from the Rural Electrification Project in various parts of the province.

Mr Luhanga said the province had seen a number of developments in agriculture and trade due to rural electrification.

He said a number of chiefs' palaces had been lit under the REA projects in most parts of the province.

The electrification of the area also excited deputy headteacher at Chisitu Basic School, Chongo Mwale who said the pupils would be able to study adequately due to lighting.

He said that it was difficult for pupils to study at night with the use of candles.

Mr Mwale also said the school would soon construct poultry house to help as an income generating venture.

Other teachers at Chisitu Basic School said the electrification of the school and staff houses was like a dream come true.

Siyandwa Tabo who had been teaching at the school for the past six years said teachers could use electrical appliances that they could not use during the time they were using solar power.

Meanwhile, Kalichero Agriculture Training Centre Officer-in-Charge Mabvuto Ngwenya said the electrification of the area would facilitate lighting in the dormitories and irrigation of the farms at the institution.

Mr Ngwenya also said the institution would engage in income generating activities.

People in the area commended Government for subsidising the connection of residences which was supposed to be paid at K750,000.

Emmanuel Banda said villagers were instead paying K150, 000 for the connection of electricity in their houses.

Mr Banda said the K150,000 was affordable to a lot of people in the area.

But James Zimba appealed to Government to subsidise the connection of power to commercial entities.

Mr Zimba who owns a shop at Chiparamba Market said it was unrealistic for Government to assume that shop owners could afford to pay K2.4 million for connection of electricity.

"The connection fee would eat up all my capital, as a matter of fact it even exceeds my investment capital," he said.

Mr Zimba also appealed to Zesco to sensitise people in the area on the requirements for one to get connected to the power grid.

He said people were ignorant about the requirements for the connection of power.

But Prof Mwenechanya explained that Government could not subsidise commercial entities.

He stated the role of REA was to connect power to public institutions such as health facilities, schools and agriculture centres in an effort to improve service delivery in rural areas.

Prof Mwenechanya advised the local people to raise issues of the connection fee with Zesco because REA's role ended at connecting the power line to public institutions.

And Chipata District Commissioner Kalunga Zulu advised the shop owners to request the utility company to allow them to pay in installments if they could not pay the K2.4 million that was required.

Meanwhile, REA acting executive officer Geoffrey Musonda said his institution wants to ensure that rural areas benefit from the rural electrification project.

He said REA recently awarded a K10.6 billion contract to two companies for the installation of power in Jerusalem and Chikando areas in Luangeni Constituency in Chipata.

Mr Musonda explained that K7.6 billion would be used to connect power to various schools, farmer institute and health facilities in Jerusalem while K3 billion would be used in Chikando.

He said the scope of works in Jerusalem involved construction of 37,000 meters 11 kilovolts from an existing line in Msupadzi.


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