An impasse has arisen over plans by the Monze District Council plans to construct a multi-million kwacha shopping mall at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula Stadium and District Agriculture Show grounds.
While the Local authority have maintained that it will go ahead with its plans to construct the shopping mall at the said site, some Monze residents have rejected the deal.
However, Southern Province Permanent Secretary Sibanze Simuchoba says government welcomes any progressive developmental idea meant to improve the lives of the people.
During a stakeholder consultative meeting held at the Council Chamber yesterday, some concerned residents argued that plans by the council were ill conceived and not in the best interests of the local community.
The local Authority mooted plans to relocate the stadium named after the former freedom fighter Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula which is sitting on a 2.3 hectares of land and Monze show grounds sitting on 11.9 hectares so that the land could be allocated for the developmental purposes including construction of shopping facilities.
Mr. Kelvin Cornhill argued that the stadium was built to honour the former freedom fighter adding that it was used by youths as the only sports recreational facility in the area saying demolishing the facility to pave way for a shopping malls was unfortunate.
” Harry Mwanga Nkumbula Stadium was built as a memorial site for the gallant freedom fighter and is also the only recreational facility for youths in Monze, therefore relocating it to another site will is an ill-conceived idea that is bad for remembrance of freedom fighters,” said Mr. Cornhill.
He advised that instead of relocating the show ground the council should instead develop the place with modern infrastructure so that future agriculture shows it attracts more agriculture exhibitors outside Monze District.
And United Party for National Development (UPND) Monze Central Member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu said the council made a mistake not to consult the residents before coming up with such plans.
Mr. Mwiimbu has advised the council to apologize to the Monze community for ‘seemingly’ imposing projects on them without consulting them.
He noted that people in Monze are willing to welcome any developmental projects that would better their lives but that the council lost it by failing to first making exhaustive consultations on such monumental projects.
” I feel that the council owe the people of Monze an apology for not consulting them at the time it (council) came up with the idea. Now if people reject the projects it is not that they do not want that particular project it is because you have not done any meaningful consultations right at the birth of the idea,” said Mr. Mwiimbu.
He called for the formation of a special committee to look into the matter.
Another resident Biggie Chiya said the council should find alternative site for the proposed projects of shopping facility and leave the show ground and stadium as the two pieces of land were already in use.
His colleague , Mr. Micheal Mundale a renowned local businessman in the area, also said the local authority can still allocate a piece of land for prospective investor within Monze without relocating the two facilities far from town centre.
And Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Mr. Michelo Kasauta said the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula Stadium should not be relocated but that any investor willing to come and put up a shopping facility in the District should partner with agriculture show grounds management to ensure a win-win situation.
Former Namwala District Commissioner Mr. Givas Syazha said the local authority should explain how the proposed plans to have shopping facilities would benefit people in Monze District.
But Monze District Council Chairperson Mr. Bisha Munsaka when contacted said the local authority was merely implementing the proposed plans made in 2013 to relocate the stadium and show grounds to pave way for construction of ultra- modern shopping facilities.
Mr. Munsaka explained that motivations behind the plans was due to a number of factors including the rapidly growing population in Monze with currently projected at 217,971, that the District was easily accessible, growing agriculture sector, strategic objectives of the council to transform District Council into a municipality within three year among other factors.
The council Chairman revealed that a 16.23 hectares of alternative land has already been secured south east of District for relocation of the stadium and the show grounds.
He supported the plans to relocate the stadium and the show grounds to allocate investors to build modern shopping malls saying the facilities would provide innumerable benefits to the local people including employment creation , and provide locals with ready market for their agriculture produce among other benefits.
And Southern Province Permanent Secretary Mr. Simuchoba noted that Monze District despite being along the line of rail lack modern shopping facilities.
He has urged the community to fully support noble plans by the council to better the lives of people by wooing investors to create jobs opportunities, decent accommodation, better services among others.
The PS also advised people in Monze to be rational as they make written or oral submissions on their views concerning the council plans to relocate the two facilities which are in the heart of town adding that it was government policy to consult people on what development they want without it imposing it on them.
” I would just urge people of Monze to take these proposals by the council seriously and make positive comments on these plans because the desire for government is to see meaningful and progressive development taking root in all towns so that we can create job.
“We people in Monze should know is that all towns at some time undergo re-planning and redevelopment and therefore they should not think Monze is the only District which is being redeveloped.
“The council should continue o receive the comments but when we find that the comments or views are not in perspective of the plans the obviously we shall ignore them and use the best practices to develop the town,” he said.
Mr. Simuchoba further observed that Monze District was very dirty due to unregulated street vending and added that it was the duty of the local authority to remove the street vendors and ensure sanity and a sustained spirit of cleanliness was strictly adhered to as people conduct their businesses.