Columnists Features

Chililabombwe: Border town in phenomenal growth

CHILILABOMBWE is witnessing phenomenal growth in terms of socio-economic activities. The border district has seen an increase in infrastructure development in commercial, industrial and residential areas since 2011.
Chililabombwe town clerk Gertrude Chibiliti says the coming in of Lubambe Mines has contributed to an increase in the employment levels in the district.
The mine, which opened in 2012, delivered its first copper concentrate on October 4 the same year. Ms Chibiliti says Lubambe is committed to working with the community and the business fraternity in the district.
Lubambe Mines, located north of Chililabombwe near Kasumbalesa border, is owned by African Rainbow Mining where Patrice Motsepe, the proprietor of Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club of South Africa, is the majority shareholder.
“The company is also committed to resettling 205 households that have been affected by the mining operations as a number of people had settled on mining land. Housing development is being completed and over 80 households have already shifted into the newly constructed houses,” Ms Chibiliti says.
Shoprite, which opened on June 27 this year, is being touted as one of the major developments to have taken place in the border town in recent years.
The opening of Shoprite has reduced residents’ costs of travelling long distances to Chingola to buy essential commodities.
“It has added a facelift of the district, which is attracting most investors to come and invest at the Shoprite mall. It has contributed towards job creation for the locals [and] has necessitated small trade as some residents easily get their merchandise for sale from there,” Ms Chibiliti says.
Chililabombwe, in the northern part of the Copperbelt Province, lies about 129 kilometres north-west of Ndola, the provincial capital.
The district is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo to the north, Chingola district to the south, Mufulira district to the east and Solwezi district to the west.
Located on latitude 12° 22’S and longitude 27° 49’E, the district covers an area of 1,027 square kilometres.
Chililabombwe is a district of a municipal status which currently has a population of 90,530 people, according to the 2010 census preliminary report. It has a population growth rate of 2.7 percent per annum.
Major economic activities take place at Kasumbalesa, and the local authority’s cash cow and lifeline for most business people in Chililabombwe is cross-border trading.
The border is important to the local authority as it promotes employment creation, hence improving people’s living standards.
Ms Chibiliti says the border post attracts investors in the district thereby contributing towards boosting the economy and enhancing the revenue base of the local authority through collection of levies and taxes.
Chililabombwe also has various levels of businesses ranging from mining supplies to cross-border trading. Some famous business houses include Hellen’s Trading, Peter Goneous and Mineboy Logistics.
Mineboy Logistics is owned by local entrepreneur Benjamin Sikombe, who is vice-chairperson of Konkola Blades Football Club.
Mineboy Logistics has a fleet of buses that operate around Lubambe Mines and Mopani Copper Mines in Kitwe, ferrying workers for both mining firms.
It also operates a number of intra- and inter-town buses from Lusaka to Chililabombwe and vice versa.
Chililabombwe has received a fair share of infrastructure projects since the Patriotic Front assumed power in 2011.
Ongoing projects include the construction of a district hospital, Fitobaula Seconday School, which is being upgraded from primary, and the erection of Kawama bridge to provide connectivity to Kawama settlement. Chimfunshi bridge is also being constructed.
There is a housing construction project in the resettlement area of Konkola township, rehabilitation of Lubengele Community Hall and opening up of roads in the unplanned settlement of People of Zambia. Peri-urban roads are also being graded.
Some completed projects include phase one construction of the youth skills training centre, the 11.7 kilometres of bituminous roads, installation of 30 boreholes in peri-urban areas for provision of clean potable water and construction of community development offices.
A tuberculosis centre has been built at Lubengele Clinic while council offices have been rehabilitated.
Chililabombwe lies on the Zambian high veld and the Zambezi-Congo watershed, at an average altitude of 1,372 metres above sea level.
The land is generally gently undulating except for low hills which are located along the international border. Most of the areas have deeply weathered red lateritic soils.
Top soils are generally sandy with heavy textured sub-soils. Most of the underlying rock is rich in minerals such as copper, cobalt, and gold, and has attracted heavy mining.
Chililabombwe is drained by Kafue River and its tributaries. The main tributaries are Lubengele, Kamenza, Kakoso, Milyashi and Ming’omba. These streams are all perennial with a lot of water throughout the year.
Just like the rest of Zambia, Chililabombwe has three seasons: hot and wet-rainy (November – March), cool and dry (April – July), hot and dry (August – October). This is typical savannah climate in the tropical grasslands.
The district lies in the high rainfall belt of Zambia with an average annual rainfall of 1,341 millimetres, mainly coming from the north-west trade winds or the Congo air masses.
The mean annual temperature is about 18 degrees Celsius. This is mainly due to the district’s altitude. The highest temperature is recorded in October when it rises to above 27 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperatures are recorded in July.
Chililabombwe has an open forest or woodland. The variety of forest is Miombo. There is a marked influence of man on natural vegetation. Activities such as mining, clearing land for farming and charcoal burning have disturbed the vegetation.
The district has an area of 102,600 hectares and out of this, 30,104 hectares are a forest estate. Woodland forests cover 24,535 hectares.
There are eight forest reserves, seven of which are national while one is local. The national forest reserves in Chililabombwe are Kirila, Kamenza, Nsato, Dome, Border, Konkola and Kafwila while the local forest reserve is Hippo Pool.
Most of the forest reserves are depleted, especially Border and Hippo Pool. Some, like Kamenza, have been degazetted and turned into farm lands. Sawmilling companies exploit timber in the Nsato, Kamenza and Konkola forest reserves.
Shortly after Zambia’s attainment of independence in 1964, the town changed its name from Bancroft to Chililabombwe. The name came from ‘Kililabombwe’, meaning ‘croaking frogs’ in ichiLamba, a language of the indigenous settlers in the area.
The croaking frogs were believed to be ancestral spirits of the Lamba people. A stream, which has its source near St Mathews UCZ congregation, emptied its water just where Konkola Stadium is today.
When the water was later drained, the frogs were killed, creating room for the establishment of Konkola Stadium, first called Kenneth Mackay Stadium, named after the then underground superintendent.
By 1965, the district had no secondary school. The people who qualified to secondary school had to go to Chikola and Chingola high schools.
Chililabombwe Secondary School was opened on January 17, 1966, by then Minister of Education John Mwanakatwe. This marked a new era in the history of the mining district.

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