Zambia: Luano Lags Behind in Infrastructure

To many people, the mention of Luano district invokes sad memories of the murderous Mailoni brothers who terrorised the area and were linked to a number of killings.

The fugitive trio was eventually gunned down by Zambia Army commandos.

However, Luano has gone past that debacle and was declared a district in 2013.

But 13 years later, there is no benefit that has come about in the region because of its district status.

All projects that commenced following its declaration as a district have stalled.

These includes the construction of the district administration office block which would have cost K6.8 million; Mkushi South Boarding School and teachers' houses, among others.

Some of the crossing points, like the Mkushi South Bridge, are a death trap, while roads are dilapidated.

Officers working in Mkushi are divided, some operate from and live in at the Luano Boma while others have found sanctuary at Masansa.

Recently, Central Province Permanent Secretary Milner Mwanakampwe undertook a familiarisation visit to Luano where he was met by district administrative officer Jessy Mulenga.

Ms Mulenga informed Mr Mwanakampwe that none of the projects that were started in 2015 had been completed.

She said despite the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) having done part of the electrification, the district was still waiting Zesco to connect it to the national electricity grid.

Ms Mulenga said roads, such as the Luano-Masansa Road, are in a bad state.

She appealed to the Government to consider grading the road.

Ms Mulenga said at first, officers operated in makeshift tents before cooperating partners helped them with the construction of a structure they now use as an office.

A check on the construction of the district administration block revealed that only 11 per cent of the project has been done.

Luano District Supervisor- Infrastructure Department Jeff Mulenga said the first contractor of the district administration block was paid K1.2 million in 2016 but he failed, leading to the hiring of another contractor who was also paid another K1.2 million in 2017.

As if this is not enough, Mkushi South Boarding School, which was embarked upon in 2010, together with 10 teacher's houses, has stalled.

Eleven years down later, the boarding school is still far from being complete as the contractor has kept on mobilising and demobilising.

Luano District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) for Luano Kelly Kapanga is concerned with the situation.

He said the contractor had finished projects in other districts, but works at Mkushi South Boarding School have continued to stall.

Mr Kapanga said the district does not have adequate boarding facilities and that the district administration was looking forward to the completion of adequate boarding facilities to cater for the learners' population in the district and address the practice of school pupils being subjected to going into weekly boarding arrangements.

He said it is important for the contractor to reconsider finishing the school as it already had an establishment that included teachers' and heads of departments who were already working in other schools.

Luano district supervisor from the Department of Infrastructure Jeff Mulenga said the contractor had been sub-contracting.

Mr Mulenga said there are two sub-contractors besides the main contractor.

Mr Mwanakampwe was saddened with the state of affairs in the district.

He said it is unacceptable that the school, whose construction commenced in 2010, is still far from being complete.

The Central Province permanent secretary said the Government has made it clear that a contractor who abandons a contract should never be given another contract.

He appealed to the school project contractor to urgently engage the Government to find a way forward because the continued abandonment of the works at the school will negatively impact the Government's policy of delivering free education if children will continue to be subjected to walking long distances.

Mr Mwanakampwe said if the school project cannot be complete in its totality, it would be better if it is partially finished and opened.

"This school will be able to cater for children coming from chiefs Kanyeshya, Mboroma and Chikupili chiefdoms. The New Dawn administration is emphasing quality education. Free education will be eluded if children continue to walk long distances," he said.

Mr Mwanakampwe also said it is unacceptable that contractors who have already been paid 20 per cent upfront end up abandoning works.

The permanent secretary earlier met with teachers at the civic centre whom he commended for working under difficult conditions.

He said the teachers' commitment to continue working in the district showed their humility and heart to save the country.

He said ordinarily, teachers' houses would have been completed.

He assured the teachers that the New Dawn administration would engage contractors and see to it that something of the projects, such as the accommodation, is done.

Mr Mwanakampwe also met teachers at Twikatane Primary School in Luano district where he commended them for their unwavering commitment and humility for serving in the civil service in the district.

He said Luano is far from attaining the district status despite the region having deen decalred a district in 2013.

Mr Mwanakampwe noted that infrastructure in the district had stalled, including teachers' houses which would have long been completed.

But the permanent secretary assured the civil servants that he would engage contractors who have abandoned the various projects.

Mr Kapango said Luano has a serious shortage of teachers owing mainly to its remoteness as most of the teachers have sought to be transferred from the region.

He said the district has 1,600 teachers, with 150 being on the payroll although are serving in other districts such as Kabwe, Kapiri and Mkushi.

From his visit to Luano district, the Central Province permanent secretary proceeded to Serenje district where he was not impressed with the illegal mining activities in the Nansanga Farm Bloc.

Mr Mwanakampwe also called for an immediate stop to illegal mining at Muchinda Boarding Secondary where the learning institution is literally being taken over by illegal miners.

Serenje District Education Board Secretary Harry Silungwe said the school is located on top of manganese deposits.

He appealed to the Government to protect the school from further encroachment.

The permanent secretary has since called for coordination between the Ministry of Mines and the local councils before the issuance of mining licences is done.

Mr Mwanakampwe also paid courtesy calls on Chief Chibale of Serenje district, who is also the provincial chairperson of the chiefs council of Central Province; as well as Chief Chitambo of Chitambo district.-ZANIS.

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