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Monday, November 28, 2022

The Abnormalities In Lusaka, Zambia

Columns The Abnormalities In Lusaka, Zambia

By Aristide Bance

Introduction

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.

Vendors selling all sorts of goods and services right in the CBD and main roads.
Vendors selling all sorts of goods and services right in the CBD and main roads.

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

Vendors selling all sorts of goods and services right in the CBD and main roads.
Vendors selling all sorts of goods and services right in the CBD and main roads.

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.

Vendors selling all sorts of goods and services right in the CBD and main roads.
The once vendor-free Kafue flyover walk space is now clustered with people selling things.

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.

Part of the filing at National Registration Card Office: Seen here is important records slumped on the floor. Are our records safe, I wonder?
Part of the filing at National Registration Card Office: Seen here is important records slumped on the floor. Are our records safe, I wonder?

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.

Passport office: Seen here is the chaotic lines and above the paper-based storage taking up the limited space at the facility.
Passport office: Seen here is the chaotic lines and above the paper-based storage taking up the limited space at the facility.

Conclusion

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.

29 COMMENTS

    • @George weah, how would a professional footballer from Burkina Faso know anything about our capital city?
      Aristide Bance has never been to Zambia before.

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    • I have polished up on anything, my original question was why?
      The reason is because the author’s name is that of a foreign footballer who has never been to Lusaka.
      So again, why would he be writing anything about Zambia?

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    • Who says only Zambians have the right to write about Zambia. Who says only Zambians know about Zambia? And names arent patented so this author could be a Zambian namesake of the Burkinabe

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    • Chiza Chirwa @1

      Don’t be an id10t. Who says a foreigner cannot write an article about a country which is not his? The UK, USA has many top critics & journalists who write articles about the poor state of certain aspects of British Lifestyles living in London but they are citizens of USA or UK. CNN has political critics & analysts from India, Mexico, Cuba, Philippines talking about the state of USA Affairs and these people are not US citizens but live in USA. And just because his name is similar to a footballer, what makes you think he is the one. How many people in the world are called Will Smith, John Barnes and George Bush? Guess what they are in a hundred thousand or more. By the way this Aristide Bance has a Zambian mother, he went to school in Lusaka, UNZA, & UK University. Just…

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    • Chiza Chirwa ### !

      The writer ends the article in his last sentence by saying…. ”

      ” WE AS ZAMBIANS CAN DO BETTER. I END HERE, TILL NEXT TIME.”

      What does that tell you about his nationality. Do you just have a problem with his name? Such kind of hurtfulness will take you
      nowhere. You are a very sad person in life. Get a life man. Eiiiish !!

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    • @Paul, not saying the name is patented, that would be silly. My original comment was about the author’s name, and it was certainly a play on the much more famous person bearing that name and talking about the Burkinabe writing about Lusaka, Zambia.
      It’s a good write up, don’t get me wrong, just don’t understand why the author would chose to hide their identity.

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    • @@Chiza Chirwa
      @@@ Chiza Chirwa

      Iwe… Without doubt you must be the dullest person who has ever asked a question and posted comments on Lusakatimes. I mean how does your question even arise. I have seen you make comments every week, that are off rail and unreasonable, but this has to be the worst of all….. First of all your name Chirwa is from Malawian and of Tumbuka Tribe. So even you are not qualified to comment on Zambia. Go back where you came from. Like many nations, in Zambia we welcome anyone to have a say….. Let’s assume it’s the footballer you are talking about. What makes you think he has never been to Zambian. Are you the Chief Immigration Officer who keeps records of every person who enters Zambia through border controls?

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  1. My mother used to tell me that if you leave your child under the care of some relatives and whenever you visit you find the child spotlessly clean just know that the child has no freedom in that house. The child should be found playing and muddy or dusty… know that the child has been given space to enjoy.

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  2. Hh and his minions are superficial f00Is. They think those leaders visiting zambia don’t know that people are suffering here. You can force poor people off the street to show an inaccurate reality but come 2026, those poor people will deal with you.

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    • Dont talk about us poor people.. african countries are all poor and all their people are suffering
      Its an african thing we born to say gime me gime me gime
      whats more interesting about 2026 is PF will they get 10% ???

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    • Its not true that African countries are all poor and all their people are suffering. Just walk over to your neighbours Namibians arent suffering like you. Angola has very poor and very rich people, Botswana has rich and poor

  3. I agree with the author entirely. We need politicians and civic leaders who will do what is good for Zambia and not what is good for them to win the next election. We must understand that Zambians are consumers and this means that selling goods is a big part of our lives. A big part of this economy is dark and silent and does not contribute to the treasury. SOLUTIONS: 1. The state must impose a tax on street vending. 2. New sites, away from streets, must be found for people to sell their wares. This has become so bad that even motor vehicles are now vended off the street near Hindu Hall.

  4. Being “own” masters has precipitated regression to a worse state! People wrongly correlate independence with doing as you like – even living in squalid conditions. Lightweights are heading our institutions, & they sit out their entire tenure of office, without innovating a single function of their business delivery. They think queues & congestion of people is a sign of working hard. Speed of work is stuck at a snail’s pace – compelling people to attend over several days. We then wonder why we can’t keep up with the West.

    #plant a tree please.

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  5. The Passport Office – among others like the Ministry of Lands, Councils and Banks – is one really bad example. It is perpetually congested with people, & with windows seemingly boarded up, or curtains drawn shut, it’s a dark, depressingly stuffy office you just want to run out of at earliest opportunity. And selling all manner of stuff anywhere you like; I won’t even go there! This is independence for us, isn’t it?…disheartening.

    #Plant a tree please.

  6. The writer of this article, Armistice Bance? Should replace Gary Nkombo because the minister is a practical wreck who performs to impress his master. He should think like Bance ask himself questions asked by Bance here then act.
    Questions he should have asked:

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  7. where do all these people go to relieve themselves as they conduct day-to-day businesses with the limited toilet facilities in town??
    Are there any public toilets around this place?
    Have I as minister or mayor taken a walk around the flyover or the cbd to experience what thousands of pedestrians go through everyday?

  8. The passport office operates like it is 1980? No it doesn’t. The passport operates like it’s 1880. And those police officers there openly solicit for bribes. All politicians know this but they do nothing about it.

  9. The article is right on point. That picture described above is replicated all over Zambia. Go to the Livingstone passport office example. I hope things have changed now. The passport building, the location then it looks like a building that has just been hit by a Russian glad missile. Imagine you get your application forms, then travel to Indo-Zambia Bank to pay. for application fees. The Bank is almost 15km away. After paying you go back to the Passport office to hand back the forms. Mwe Bantu we need to work on these issues.

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    • I took pictures of the Mufulira home affairs files. They are just as messy. The entire government machinery left by Welensky has decayed and all citizens, i.e. civilservants, visitors, and Ministers know this. Those who are ministers cant act even when they have power. They are very happy driving around Lusaka in flag waving cars. Those murky messedup, dirty offices should be cleaned

  10. Surprisingly ,the mobile money booths were okay with government until the coming of the African Union summit in Zambia, typical of African governments. To them to impress AU visitors is more important than peoples lively hoods. I honestly believe that most booths are real eye sores but why wait for the AU to find amicable common ground with booth owners, how can booths be bundled behind Findeco house and the whole Minister calls the place a designated place. And even being economical with the truth by saying we did not remove booths because of the AU summit, UPND please learn from the dismal conduct of the PF and the consequences thereof , learn quickly for your sake

  11. What a timely write up. The NRC offices are pathetic, they have not seen COBRA in decades, they still use the old typewriter, the passport office is a dungeon with extremely arrogant people, someone needs to go and inspect these places an announced, it’s a shame

Comments are closed.

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