THERE is a looming Cholera outbreak at the far end of Lusaka’s COMESA Market, on Lumumba road as traders are operating in unhygienic environment.
In another development, concerned citizens have asked President Edgar Lungu to ensure that his Government constructs tar roads at COMESA Market to deal with drainage problems.
They say it is unfair that some strong Government officials have “follow me tarred roads” at their houses while the markets like COMESA Market have no such facilities.
Markets such as COMESA are in shabby state largely because Councilors, City Council, Patriotic Front(PF) cadres and Executive Mayor have continued to defy President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s directive to ‘Keep Zambia clean and green environment campaign’ aimed at the ending Cholera outbreak and other related illnesses.
Following the worst Cholera outbreak that hit the country in 2018, President Lungu embarked on a spirited campaign to keep Zambia clean but it seems his efforts are in vain as PF party cadres continue electing makeshift shops and allowing inappropriate vending.
With the return of lawful street vending in Lusaka, President Lungu’s keep Zambia clean is now a far- fetched pipe dream.
Tumfweko is daring Local Government Minister Charles Banda to take casual strolls in most of the places in Lusaka and see if he will not be choked by the bad stench from uncollected garbage. There are scents of urine within the Central Business District, especially near Simon Mwewa lane on construction market.
Due to limited toilets provided for by the local authorities, vendors use used polythene bags and packs of locally brewed Shake Shake beer to answer the call of nature.
But when reached for a comment, Kanyama Constituency Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula Ward 11 Councilor Lackson Sakala defended President Lungu’s keep Zambia clean campaign, stating that it is alive and being adhered to by council officers.
When addressing party cadres in Kabwe, Central Province a couple of years ago, Patriotic Front(PF) Secretary General Davies Mwila gave a leeway to cadres to control markets and bus stations, saying it was a price of being in the ruling party. But President Lungu, under pressure from residents and the United Party for National Development(UPND) gave a directive to cadres to vacate the streets and allow councils to control markets and bus stations so that local municipals could raise needed funds for civic works.
This move was acknowledged by Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa who confirmed that following the removal of PF cadres from bus stations and markets, the Lusaka City Council is collecting in access of K90 000 on a daily basis. He said from the improved council revenue, the local authority has managed to pay council worker’s four months’ salary arrears.
According to Mr Sakala, when COMESA Market was in flames, traders were left with no proper sanitary facilities but that a newly constructed market committee has been tasked to clean the trading area, in line with President Lungu’s directive of keeping Lusaka clean and tidy.
An on the spot check by a Tumfweko Media crew on Friday, 3rd January 2020 found heaps of garbage piled near restaurants mounted in unplanned manner, with unsuspecting patrons eating unconscious in unhygienic environment.
As people are having their lunch, they are entertained by flies coming from uncollected garbage which pose a serious Cholera threat.
Sources within the market intimated that a named man involved in the business of recycling polythene is responsible for the garbage in question.
“…People take all sorts of litter and he buys what he wants for recycling. It is not a bad idea as we encourage innovation such as that but the only borne of contention is the clearness part of it. You find that some times he takes time to select the polythene bags and other used plastic bottles,” the source said “The council is responsible for disposing of garbage that remains after one for recycle has been carried away.”
He added”…But surely, how can people be eating in such filthy and inconsiderate restaurants. Vendors are not to blame but a responsibility is on those who eat in these places, knowing that they are dirty and a serious health risk, yet these people, continue to patronize on these ‘dirty’ restaurants.”
As though that is not enough, for this long, traders have been trading without sanitary facilities (toilets), forcing traders to answer the call of nature from Shake-Shake beer empty packets while others troop to Downtown Flyover Bridge for the same cause.
But Councilor Sakala in a telephone conversation said the COMESA Market committee will next week remove garbage from the affected areas of COMESA Market.
“By next Tuesday, the market committee will move in and collect garbage because funds area now available,” the Councilor disclosed.
He explained that a named company applied to build a temporal toilet at COMESA Market and construction of the said facilities is underway.
Asked to name the firm that is constructing a toilet at COMESA Market, Mr Sakala said he does not have the name of the contractor but said he would contact the COMESA Market Committee who are privy to that piece of information.
When reminded that the construction of the market is on Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company(LWSC) sewer pipe and placed near eating places, the Councilor responded that there is no conflict in the positioning of the ablution blocks at the market.
Mr Sakala revealed that there is a Lusaka Water and Sewerage septic tank mounted in Lumumba Road which will supply water to the toilets under construction.
But a named trader had his own reservations over the toilets under construction as it is constructed where garbage is dumped.
“They are pilling dirt on dirt. Why can’t they first of all remove that garbage and think of constructing toilets,” one of the traders who refused to be named said.
Last year, the Zambian Government evoked the Local Government Act (LGA) of 2018 that curtailed street vending but vendors in question where left scot-free, instead of being stopped.
It is believed that the street vendors in question are protected by “big cadres” with “strong links to powerful politicians in the corridors of powers.
“Numerous calls were made to evict the traders in question but no action has to date been taken, despite Lusaka City Council police officers, being on the hunt for vendors found trading elsewhere,” said Antony Mwamba a Kanyama resident.
Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo, Lusaka Executive Mayor Miles Bwalya Sampa and other Government officials last year visited the area but could not adequately address the issues at hand.
Lusambo, a Patriotic Front (PF) Kabushi Member of Parliament (MP) in Ndola on the Copperbelt issued empty threats to vendors to vacate the premises but up to date he has not made a follow-up despite promising to do so.
“I don’t want to find you operating from here when I return,” Lusambo, then in the company of die-hard PF cadres and selected Journalists was widely quoted issuing a stern warning.
Tumfweko Comment: something is fishy here. For example, how was a plan to develop toilets at COMESA Market approved by the Lusaka City Council for the ablution blocks that are are being constructed on a road reserve, without a plot number?
The honorable councilor says he does not know the firm that has been contracted to build toilets at COMESA Market. He said he will get the name from the COMESA Market Committee. Is honourable Sakala being serious and honest on this one? how does he say that he does not know the name of the contractor who has been given works in the market that is located in his ward? Is there anything that our dear councilor is trying to hide from us? Does he have vested interest in this project? How was the bidding process for this process? How many firms expressed interest for that job? Did the Lusaka City Council advertise in any popular daily newspaper that they were looking for a firm to construct a toilet? Was this unknown company single sourced? Those questions are begging for answers?
The councilor is saying that the toilets in construction are temporal…is he being honest and truthful? From the look of things, the toilets are permanent because blocks for example are being used to construct them and the foundation was laid. So what is Councilor Sakala talking about and what are his interest?