Editor's Comment

City regeneration way to go

WINA

THE move by Government to identify and redevelop idle assets in a bid to address the office space deficit is not only timely, but a progressive idea that must be supported by all well-meaning Zambians.During a sound marketing symposium on creating office space through redeveloping idle and wasting assets, Vice-President Inonge Wina said Government needs to create at least 180,000 square metres of office space to address the deficit which has deteriorated over the years.
The deficit has been exacerbated by the fact that infrastructure development is not happening proportionally to population growth.
While the population is growing at a fast rate and subsequently leading to an increase in the labour force, infrastructure development, in particular office space, has lagged behind thereby creating a shortage.
As rightly noted by Mrs Wina, the number of civil servants, for instance, has continued to increase over the years while office space has remained static.
Even the very limited office infrastructure that is available, some of it is so old and dilapidated, posing a safety hazard to occupants.
Looking around our cities we have so many idle and wasting assets, some sitting on prime land.
Unfortunately these wasting and idle assets, apart from being a safety hazard, are an eyesore to the beauty of the country.
We cannot continue like this. As a country we need to move with times.
Apart from providing adequate and decent working spaces, we need to beautify our cities and country in line with the 21st century trends.
We could not agree more with Mrs Wina that the need to create suitable and decent office space cannot be ignored anymore because of its importance to service delivery.
“As Government, we are obsessed with one principal objective that we must continue to enhance our service delivery. However, unavailability of adequate and appropriate office space has been one of our obstacles,” Mrs Wina said.
It is an established fact that a good work environment has potential to boost the morale and subsequently the productivity of workers.
The current office space deficit means that a lot of people do not have decent space to work from.
This certainly takes away from their output and subsequent contribution to the country’s development.
It is however heartening that Government is not sitting idly but working to increase decent office space.
As a step towards addressing the current office space deficit, Government has already started identifying idle and wasting assets to be developed into valuable ones through partnership with the private sector.
So far Government has identified SEDB House, mixed use development on Nangwenya Road, Herbert Young and the office block on Independence Avenue as some of the idle assets that will be redeveloped.
However, we want to believe these are not the only idle or wasting properties around.
Government should ensure a thorough audit of infrastructure to capture as many idle buildings as possible.
In redeveloping idle and wasting infrastructure, there is need to ensure maximisation of space by putting up more skyscrapers. This is important in view of the limited land resource.
There is also need to adopt open space offices which can accommodate more people where necessary.
While it is commendable that Government has come up with the brilliant idea to address the office space deficit, it needs the support of the private sector to implement it.
While Government is willing to invest in such infrastructure, it is inhibited by limited resources.
The Minister of Finance recently said there has been a reduction of public capital committed to such investments due to increased competing demands on the treasury.
This is where the private sector comes in.
We urge more local investors to come on board. This way we will ensure more benefits to our economy because revenue raised from renting out the offices will not be externalised but reinvested as opposed to foreign investors.

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