SILUMESI MALUMO, LUSAKA
CHITAMBO is one of the new districts in the country and residents are eager to see it graduate from its current underdeveloped status.
While Chisamba and Ngabwe, the other new districts in Central Province appear to be more developed, Chitambo, like Luano district lags behind in infrastructure development.
The new district, which was part of Serenje as Chitambo Constituency until 2012 still lacks vital infrastructure like the district administration blocks, offices for various government departments and a civic centre for the local authority.
This lack of infrastructure has a negative effect on service delivery.
The district is home to the David Livingstone Memorial Monument erected in honour of the Scottish missionary and explorer who died in Chitambo chiefdom on May 1, 1873 at the age of 60.
The elevation of Chitambo, made of Muchinka and Chitambo chiefdoms to district status has elated residents who are happy, their region is a district.
As part of Serenje, development and delivery of services in Chitambo Constituency was a challenge because the district was vast.
Mapalo Mpundu wants to see infrastructure development in Chitambo district because the agricultural area, is now a district.
Mr Mpundu expects to see projects in different sectors being undertaken across Chitambo as this will transform the area.
Of paramount concern to Mr Mpundu is the need for better roads and the absence of electricity in the district.
“We cannot run away from the fact that electricity is very important,” Mr Mpundu says.
Mr Mpundu adds: “When this area is electrified, we will not continue wallowing in poverty as the case is now because with electricity, we will get involved in businesses.”
He says a good road network and electricity are important in facilitating and accelerating development and economic growth in the district.
Unemployment levels among the youth are high, and eking out a living is a challenge.
The availability of electricity will therefore be a positive development for the infant district.
Kalumba Bwalya, who agrees with Mr Mpundu says Government needs to hasten the electrification of Chitambo through the national grid.
Chief Chitambo gave Government 300 hectares of land for development of the district administration and the township.
To cushion challenges of accommodation among civil servants, Government has allocated K2 million for building the district administration.
Chitambo district commissioner, Catherine Kunda admits that lack of infrastructure is a major challenge for her district.
Ms Kunda is, however, upbeat that once Government builds the district administration and other vital infrastructure and Chitambo district will be a changed place.
“As people of Chitambo we are very happy to see that (central) Government has decided to bring development to this district.
“This district has been undeveloped since formation but it will be a thing of past,” Ms Kunda says.
The district administration is located near Mukondo turn-off where Ms Kunda secured office space.
But the current district administration lacks adequate space to cater for different government departments.
Ms Kunda says Government is in the process of engaging a contractor to build district administrative offices.
Chitambo, being an agriculture hub needs a good road network as this will promote growth of the sector and enable farmers to easily access the market.
To this effect, Zambia National Service (ZNS) has been engaged and awarded a contract of K1.6 million.
ZNS will upgrade and rehabilitate a stretch of 62 kilometres of feeder roads in the area and this development is expected to open up Chitambo district.
Ms Kunda says ZNS has since started the road works.
On the electrifying of the district, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) is this year expected to undertake phase one of the project.
Among the areas that will be covered under this phase are; administration offices, schools and some houses.
Ms Kunda says with the availability of electricity, youths will be able to engage in entrepreneurship activities.
As a district where David Livingstone died, Chitambo hosts one of Zambia’s most prized heritage sites.
Dr Livingstone died in Chief Chitambo’s Chipundu area after he suffered from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery.
Following his death, his remains were buried under a Mpundu tree some metres away from a hut where he is believed to have died from.
Ms Kunda says the site is an important area and if fully marketed, tourism inflow will increase in Chitambo.
The University of Zambia in partnership with the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC), the custodian of the site plan to build a library.
The facility will be stocked with information about David Livingstone and his activities in Zambia.
Ms Kunda says building a library will add value to the memorial site and will be attractive for tourism.
She says through the memorial site, Chitambo is contributing revenue to the national treasurer thus contributing to national development.
As an underdeveloped district deprived of investments that would contribute in creating employment and reducing poverty, Chitambo is in need of investors.
Ms Kunda says some local and foreign investors have expressed interest to invest in the area by establishing filling stations, lodges and shopping malls.
“Like other district, we also want investors to come here because there are a lot of investment opportunities.
Other positive development expected to contribute to the social-economy of Chitambo is the establishment of milling plants.
Eighteen milling plants have been completed and the remaining 13 will be completed this year.
“We can now boast as a district, especially my office that we are working hard to ensure that the area is developed in a short period of time,” Ms Kunda says.
As infrastructure development gains momentum, Mr Mpundu, Mr Bwalya and other people in Chitambo are hoping to easily access social services within a manageable distance.
SILUMESI MALUMO, LUSAKA