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Alba Iulia
Thursday, October 22, 2020

Undressing the Roads In Lusaka

Columns Undressing the Roads In Lusaka

By Musyani Siame

Many feeder roads in Lusaka have been stripped off of the trees and left naked due to road constructions. From independence avenue to Haile Selassie to Great East Road, to Lake Road, to Kabulonga Road and to many more, the view of the roads has turned into a sorry site and the pain of deforestation is unbearable to the people who value trees.
Take for instance, Haile Selassie Street in Long Acres was not so long ago one of the prettiest road to drive on because of its beautiful array of trees alongside. These trees did not only provide the beautiful scenery in the manner they were arranged but also a nice shade with colorful flowers during summer and fresh air to the environment making Long Acres more attractive including the business complex.

Moreover, these trees have been in existence since the colonial era and one mighty say they have really been standing for many years. However, the trees and their goodness along the roads have continued to be cut down in just a short a period of time to pave way for the rise of the new monster in town ‘’road constructions’’ under government’s Lusaka decongestion project. The sacrifice of trees on most roads has come at a cost when the construction of roads become priority by the government.

Nevertheless, the expansion of roads in Lusaka is triggering mega questions to the general populace. Firstly, are road constructions a necessary evil to the surrounding trees and people? Secondly, should we keep seeing our nice feeder roads being stripped-off of the beautiful trees and leave them naked and exposed to the effects of climate change? Thirdly, are there ways in which government can expand roads without cutting down trees? Fourthly, are there ways also we can replace the already cut down trees and restore all the functions and benefits fallen trees used to provide?

While such questions remain unanswered, I am tempted to believe that solutions lie within ourselves as people and all stakeholders to begin to undertake both intensive and extensive tree planting projects along the affected roads and help the city to cope with the effects of climate change such as floods and drought and increase the longevity of our roads as well as people.

The citizens of Lusaka and the government, working together alongside civil society organizations can see to it that trees are replanted back along the roads after the completion of the road constructions. It is also the mandate of the contractors working on various roads to conform to the terms of references of their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) which explicitly exemplify vegetation cover replacement projects at the completion of a project before the trees risk being wiped out in the city. Monitors and regulator of road projects must up their game and help replant the fallen trees. The truth of the matter is that; many more streets are about to be undressed as they lineup for road expansions.

I cry for these trees because they exist to give us hope for life. Hope to a better future. The trees along the roads function together and are connected in one way or another to the roots and to the branches. This is a symbol of unit, peace, love and togetherness. So, as a people we need to emulate this ecological life of trees which we can only do when they are standing and we can only see them standing when we replant.

When we are united with love to one another and spirit of togetherness, we can conquer and achieve the common good just like the way trees do. Just to give a little more latitude to this fact, this can be lesson to the various political groupings ahead of 2021 general elections. Let’s emulate the nature of trees because to a higher degree, trees can teach us how to replace political violence with love. From trees we can learn how to replace political vengeance with forgiveness. And from trees we can learn how to replace political hate speech with good speech. From trees we can learn how to replace tribalism with the spirit of togetherness and oneness. Therefore, we cry for these fallen trees along the streets at the realm of road constructions because they are our hope and the future.

As a people of good will, we urge the government, the public, the NGOs, road contractors, environmental regulators etc. to come together and find ways of restoring trees along the streets especially that urban forestry has dwindled in Lusaka mainly due to deforestation.

I feel government must deliberately set up a fund to support urban tree planting projects. Although there are few channels of funding to tree planting projects such as the one under Ministry of National Development Planning, many stakeholders in environmental sector do not know about them because of lack of awareness by the government on availability of such funds and how to access them.

On the other side, NGOs dealing with environmental issues such as deforestation have become too reluctant in pioneering tree planting projects in the face of road infrastructure development. Nevertheless, a few are exceptional and I can take this opportunity to recognize the relentless efforts made by Earth Alive Group organization for advancing urban tree planting awareness programs.

As I conclude, I would like to remind you that trees provide hope and life. Let’s plant trees and help combat effects associated with climate change. If you indeed want to leave legacy plant a tree. I am not in any way implying that road development projects are bad, but they need to be implemented in a sustainable manner which does not pose a threat to the environment.

The Author is an Environmental Consultant

10 COMMENTS

  1. Good observation. However my biggest worry is the lack provision for pedestrians and cyclists tracks alongside the new roads. At least the colonialists made made provisions for pedestrians and cyclists on most road arteries that traversed residential and commercial areas

  2. Where were you when the consultations were done ????

    Zambians are very easy to con , just put anything in writing in the press if there is a requirement by law , they only come out to complain after you start work ….

    I remember someone who captured an archeological site in Lusaka…..he corruptly had the relevant authority advertise the site for development, only after he started building did people start complaining…..

  3. It will take so many years to restore the damaged environment necessitated by road construction works. I hope when all the road works are complete the same number of trees(or even more but not less) uprooted will be planted

  4. It was not necessary to remove a large number of these trees – the expansion in some areas do not even come close to where the trees once stood. More importantly, they cannot be bothered even contemplating replanting in a different area now the work has been completed. Let me be clear – The Patriotic Front is too lazy (and too busy lining their pockets) to plant trees to replace the DECADES old beauties they have torn down, for roads that WE have paid for, and roads that did not add any extra money to the economy.
    Lusaka is not a beautiful city, but one thing that was beautiful were the trees. Guess not. President Lungu likes seeing our capital slowly turning into a concrete jungle. Must be a sign of progress if you have a Chinese mindset?

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  5. Hire an editor please! This writing is terrible!
    With that being said, I do acknowledge the need of sustainability in our construction process, it’s not only roads but every structure that we develop.
    Climate change or deforestation is only mentioned when people want donor aid.
    People only talk about Mukula because of the money thats not coming to them, no one is genuinely concerned for the forests.
    Consider how forest 27 is being championed by one person.

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