PRESIDENT Lungu has ordered the ministries of Energy, Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection to urgently meet and address bottlenecks on the implementation of the multi-million dollar Upper Lunsemfwa Dam project in Central Province.
This follows the decision by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) to halt the application of authority for the project due to environmental and water resources challenges.
The proposed multipurpose dam project earmarked for Katuba in the Mkushi farm block is costed at US$10 million.
The two agencies objected to the application citing the lack of a full water resource assessment, 31 burial sites in the project area, resettlement and a concern raised by ZESCO and Lower Lunsemfwa Hydro Power project on power generation.
The Lower Lunsemfwa project dam has raised fears that should it proceed, it would deplete the water supply and affect power generation.
President Lungu directed the two ministries and stakeholders concerned to meet on Monday and dialogue over the contentious issues.
The Head of State said this yesterday when he met the promoters of the dam project led by Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba and technocrats at the Ministry of Water Development, the Sanitation and Environmental Protection led by permanent secretary Edward Chomba.
Mr Lungu said social issues surrounding the project could be mitigated but that the concern on power generation needs to be critically analysed.
“As you know, I was in Mkushi two days ago and we discovered there were challenges in the implementation of this project, which I think is very important and I hope we can find solutions to move forward,” Mr Lungu said.
The President said the stakeholders should deliberate on which project will have a greater economic impact on Zambians.
“So I think we should all ‘invade’ the office of the Minister of Energy [David Mabumba] and put our case across to him and from there, we can get in touch over which one could be useful to all of us,” he said.
Upper Lunsemfwa project chairperson Costain Chilala, who described the meeting as fruitful, said the dam project is of great importance as it will enhance agricultural activities and benefit the locals.
Mr Chilala said Zambians should embrace investment in the construction of the dam as dams are useful, especially during droughts.
“When Mkushi runs out of water, people will rely on this dam, that is humanitarian. This dam is multipurpose, farmers, fishermen and tourism will benefit,” Mr Chilala said.