BENEDICT TEMBO, Munyumbwe
â€œWE NEVER imagined that we would see a tarred road in our life time,â€ Gwembe resident Mubiana Situmbeko says of the Bottom Road, which has finally reached Munyumbwe in Gwembe.
Mr Situmbeko, who runs a shop in Munyumbwe, says the Bottom Road which connects Gwembe to Siavonga, has made travelling to Lusaka faster.
The road has been tarred making transportation easier for people in the area.
â€œIt is almost two months since I used the Gwembe-Munyumbwe road. It (Bottom Road) has no potholes,â€ Mr Situmbeko said.
He gets all his merchandise for his shop from Lusaka and since the road reached Munyumbwe, the challenge of travelling on a gravel road famous for its 17 corners are a distant past for him.
Apart from avoiding the meandering and curvy Gwembe-Munyumbwe gravel road, Mr Situmbeko expects his vehicle to have a longer life span because he has stopped using the dilapidated Mazabuka-Kafue road as well.
He said it is taking about four hours to travel from Munyumbwe in the Gwembe valley to Lusaka.
The Bottom Road, which forms an important link in the Southern Province, currently runs from Siavonga to Gwembe and is expected to reach Sinazongwe and will end at Chief Mukuniâ€™s area in Livingstone.
The Bottom Road is among the road construction projects being undertaken under the Link Zambia 8000, which was initiated by the Patriotic Front government as soon as it was elected into power in 2011.
Apart from the Bottom Road, government has continued to deliver other infrastructure development projects to Gwembe.
Gwembe District Council secretary Mangwato Cheembo said the Bottom Road will drive development and socio-economic well-being of people in Munyumbwe.
Mr Cheembo said the coming of the road will see a lot of people going to Gwembe to seek investment opportunities.
â€œIt is much cheaper for us and the people as well to travel between Gwembe and Lusaka. It will connect us to the two sister councils (Siavonga and Sinazongwe which are also in the Gwembe valley),â€ Mr Cheembo said.
He expects the Bottom Road to trigger an influx of tourists going to Lake Kariba in Chipepo chiefdom for sight-seeing.
Government is building a new district hospital in Munyumbwe. Phase one of the construction of district hospital is almost done and it awaits the Ministry of Works and Supply, the Ministry of Health, Zesco and the contractor to put final touches for it to be open to the public.
â€œPhase I is complete but not yet connected to power. Phase II works are progressing well and are almost at window level. The works comprise construction of the maternity ward, theatre and service block,â€ said district administrative officer Justus Phiri.
Dauti Banda, who works for the Forestry Department, urged government to expedite the process of opening of the hospital.
â€œOther hospitals in Kalomo and Mulobezi are open,â€ Mr Banda said.
He said currently, Munyumbwe is being serviced by a clinic, which is clearly overwhelmed and some patients are being referred to Gwembe and Monze.
Three out of 10 health posts are under construction. Of the three, only one has neared completion while the other two are at foundation stage.
At Gwembe General Hospital, the Adventist and Relief Agency has built a motherâ€™s shelter.
Meanwhile, the Gwembe District Council is building a taxi rank at the plateau to serve motorists better and increase its revenue base.
The council is also constructing houses from its internally generated resources to ease accommodation challenges in Munyumbwe.
Bottom Road a game changer
BENEDICT TEMBO, Munyumbwe