By Wesley Ngwenya
I am writing this from a guest house somewhere in woodlands–one of the neighborhoods in Lusaka. This is my temporal shelter for the weekend maybe more as my house in Kabwata is completely submerged in water—every room. I have, therefore, abandoned my property which is all floating in about 12 inches high water.
This should not be a big deal because I chose to go and live in Kabwata. No one forced me to move into that neighborhood. Kabwata site and service is a neighborhood just south east of Lusaka. This means that the houses in this neighborhood have been built by the residents. The City Council provided the land to build the houses. Therefore, the neighborhood has a variety of houses from nicely fenced and fancy houses to poorly built ones.
This neighborhood has been in existence since the early eights but it has no proper drainage systems or paved roads. Therefore, when it rains especially the way it has been in the last three weeks, there are a lot of floods all over. Many people in Kabwata are living with pools of water outside or inside their houses. They do not have the privilege of sneaking to some guesthouse or a relative with better accommodation. They have to continue staying in the same conditions during this period.
Kabwata is considered middle class and is in such terrible state. I hate to think of the situation in Misisi, Kanyama, and Chipata Compounds where I hear people are reported to have died as a result of the floods. What is the local or state government doing about this? What has taken them long to provide these much needed services in these areas? What has been happening to the land rates and other taxes that we pay?
This past week for the first time, the local government decided to send contractors to work on the drainage in Kabwata. What work can be done at this time of the year when there is so much water? Where have they been all this time? Where was the money sitting all this time? Why do we always have to react to problems instead of tackling issues before they become problems? These are frustrating questions to even think of when there are people employed to do these things.
Lusaka City needs a complete makeover underground. Downtown Lusaka (or the city center) is a terrible mess when it rains. Each time it rains in the city the water doesn’t seem to know where to go. It is never guided and usually will flow with the gradient of the ground. Look at those bus stations in the city. Despite that they are used by millions of passengers every year, they continue to be flooded sometimes to knee-high when it rains. Year after year it is the same problems, same places and same consequences- accidents, diseases, and even deaths.
I would go on and on but I will stop here. I have already provided solutions in my previous article on floods. Besides, Rupiah is in a party mood right now and won’t listen. He is busy celebrating his birthday. He is never too old to party. Anyway, as soon as the partying is over we can come back to the table and talk about the floods. By the way, I am working on another love letter for you and your government. Until next time happy birthday Mr President.