By Aristide Bance
The African Union Mid-Year Summit starts in Lusaka Zambia on the 14th of July 2022. In a bid to make a good impression to the visiting delegates, the government swiftly moved to clear the unsightly booths littered all across most parts of Lusaka, mainly the central business district (CBD) and Great East Road. This is the problem I have with this exercise; it is a temporary solution as the booths will still come back full force after the summit. Why do I say so? Simply, because I saw on the news and heard with dismay from Hon. Garry Nkombo that, ‘the City of Lusaka is going through a clean-up hence the removal of the booths, however, “the street vendors selling all sorts of things ranging from food to clothes will not be removed.” Now honestly, how does the minister think the booth owners feel about this? It does not make sense at all and so I say after the summit, we will go back to the dirty city of Lusaka which by the way is still very dirty even after the removal of the booths.
The Weaponisation Of Street Vending For Political Gain
Going into the Lusaka CBD is an extreme sport whether you are using your own transport, public transport or walking. You are faced with congestion by cars and people. Well, at least with a car, you are shielded from the cold or hot weather but walking in the CBD, one has to navigate vendors’ merchandise, Zamcabs, other pedestrians and cars both moving or parked in islands meant for walking. I was shocked and dismayed as I entered the town for the first time this year to see that Lusaka was just one big filthy market.
Lusaka resembles a big filthy market because politicians have weaponised street vending. It is much easier for the government to remove inanimate things like booths and not deal with live people in the form of vendors. The government hides by saying these are our voters but to what expense? The dirtiness of the CBD. Come on, people let us be serious. The previous government allowed this illegality and the current one is also following suit. First order of the day, that this government should have done was clear the city and deploy soldiers, much like what the previous government tried to do after the national disaster of the Cholera outbreak which by the way is going to hit Lusaka this way if the CBD is left as it is. The government needs to clear the city and deploy soldiers, that is the only way, abafilika learn. They should not be campaigning for 2026. When they perform, they will not need to remind us on the good they have done (Lessons from 2021). The government of the day should not be afraid to tell Zambians that this street vending is wrong and a hazard. There is a way of thinking Zambians like, ati, we encourage street vendors because we buy from them. I do not agree with that. We encourage street vending because we do not speak up and say awe, this is wrong. It is more than that. If we speak up and it is put in law that you cannot put up any katemba and start selling chips and Hungarians in the middle of the CBD, then we are changing our ways.
Kafue Flyover Bridge Problem And Pedestrian Crossing
The roads in Lusaka have been worked on and that is appreciated. The Kafue flyover Bridge should be reworked especially by the walkways so that pedestrians can be safe. As it is, it is a risk as people and cars miss each other by inches as they meander through the congestion created by…. Yes …Vendors…. that problem again. I wonder where all these people go to relieve themselves as they conduct day-to-day businesses with the limited toilet facilities in town and peoples’ thrifty ways of not wanting to pay K2 to use the few available facilities. The Kafue bridge pedestrian crossing is being used as a place to relieve
oneself as the billboards on both sides offers privacy. How disgusting is that? (Disclaimer: Sensitive). Zambia, let us be serious. We are a dirty nation. I fail to understand how people nicely dressed can behave as we do. This is more than what we see on the outside…our mind-sets are really primitive. While am on this topic, why can’t the water pumps at the Kafue and Kabwe Roundabouts be replaced and be more secured after the first one at Kafue Roundabout was stolen by unscrupulous and selfish individuals. This goes to the issue of people not having fear in terms of respecting public property. That property belonged to all of us. But if people can also steal, the copper eagle that was placed at the Grave of Kenneth David Kaunda, it just goes to show you how as Zambians have deteriorated in our habits and thought processes.
The Presidents’ Office (Pa Boma)
Walking along Church road, most of us are old enough to remember what was characteristic of what was there at Levy Mall. To remind those that have forgotten, that place was full of ancient unsightly government buildings and a junkyard for old cars and unusable office machinery. That was until the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) took that land and gave us the building Levy Junction. The whole place transformed right before our eyes. Across is a sorry sight as that is where the Presidents’ office or pa Boma as we commonly refer to it as is. The place does not carry that authority as it is a neglected place and poorly maintained. Mu Zambia, let us be serious, even a simple fence like the one at the High Court of Zambia can do. Give the place that authority and dignity it deserves. It can be paved outside, as now we have no excuse, paving companies are all over. The Boma is where National Registration cards (NRCs) are given but the system is so ancient. It is so paper-based. I hope with the new digital NRCs, we will be better. This requires the will and push from all stakeholders.
The Passport Office Of Zambia
Another abnormality in Zambia is our public services and in this case the passport office of Zambia. It is 2022 and we are operating like 1980. Simple administrative issues do not need a higher office to institute. For example, the collection of passports by applicant should be smooth. A print out or even a notice on the official passport office website notifying applicants that their passports are ready should be put out instead of making people travel to enquire about their passports. During collection of passports, there are two lines, one for surnames beginning with A to L and another with M to Z. There should be guides telling people where to stand or a public service announcement system telling which counter to go to and the counters should be clearly labelled. A ticketing system where a number is given to a person should be issued and a public service announcement system put in place to guide people where to go is also a simple 21st century if not a 20th century system we can employ, for example, “ticket number 1 now being served at Counter 1.” The filing system at passport office also leaves much to be desired. We cannot have papers taking up so much space where as we have cloud-based systems we can use to save our work. The use of technology is simple…. the passport office can use it to better their services, that is what I am merely suggesting.
In conclusion, let us not keep quiet when we see things that are wrong. I know it may look like we are not being heard when we talk but someone is listening. Surely our members of parliament use some of these places and they have seen that things are wrong. We do not need to have a summit to clean up our city. We do not need other people to tell us that we live in filth. The once garden city Lusaka is now a filthy market city. We as Zambians can do better. I end here, till next time.