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Edgar Lungu did well to visit Luangwa

FILE: PRESIDENT Lungu (right) and his special assistant for projects implementation and monitoring Lucky Mulusa (middle) buy fish at Luangwa market on the Great East Road. PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE

BENEDICT TEMBO

FOR Luangwa residents, President Edgar Lungu’s visit to the district was a dream come true.
I was not there during the President’s visit recently.
However, having been there recently, I can imagine the excitement by the people there.
It was a prayer answered by God to send the head of State there.
Barely two weeks has passed since the people of Luangwa called on their government to listen to their plight.
The pleasant surprise is that instead of delegating a minister or any other envoy, President took it upon himself to travel and respond to their plight. Chief among their grievances is the looming hunger.
President Lungu said on Wednesday food relief is underway.
The President also promised that the three bridges on the D145 will be completed.
The D145 road which connects Luangwa town to Feira was constructed under the Link Zambia 8000 road project.
Construction started in 2012 and was commissioned in 2013.
However, three bridges Mankokhwe, Kaunga and Mphuka which are 15 kilometres apart needed to be reconstructed.
President Lungu told the residents that the three bridges will be reconstructed and township roads upgraded to bituminous standard.
He is optimistic that the mine, with its attendant benefits employment creation will open.
Environmentalists have dragged Zambezi Resources Limited to court citing safety concerns as the copper mine was going to pollute wildlife in the Luangwa National Park in Zambia and the Manal Pools in Zimbabwe.
President Lungu said he is aware the matter is in court and the executive will not interfere because the judiciary is independent.
Luangwa District Council secretary Gilbert Sendama said the President’s pronouncement on councillors increment of their allowances has also cheered them. Mr Sendama said assurance about connecting Luangwa to the national grid has not only cheered the people but their royal highnesses, the council chairperson and councillors.
“The President is indeed the father of the nation with not only a listening ear but also action oriented visionary,” Mr Sendama said.
Last year, Government granted the wish of the people there by constructing the 91 kilometres road linking Luangwa Bridge and Feira (Luangwa boma).
The upgrading of the road from gravel to bituminous standard has transformed the fortunes of the people.
The gravel road, which had a lot of potholes and had a toll on vehicles leading to constant break-downs is now history.
The construction of the road, under the Link Zambia 8000 road project, started in 2013 and was completed in 2015.
Mr Sendama also testifies that the D145 road constructed by China Geo for K390.8 million has transformed Luangwa.
“[This is] the biggest gift people of Luangwa have received [from Government] in the last 50 years,” Mr Sendama said.
The public transportation system was worrisome as bus operators deployed very old buses on the Lusaka-Luangwa route because of the bad road.
But now, there are luxury buses.
There are two luxury time buses servicing Feira-Luangwa bridge-Lusaka.
Even the business community are easily moving their goods.
Business has improved in Luangwa town at the confluence of three countries – Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This is where the Luangwa and Zambezi rivers meet.
Luangwa is also the transit route to Mozambique’s Zumbo district and Mbire in Mashonaland in Zimbabwe.
Luangwa is also a tourist destination. It is the home to Kavalamanja village on the Zambia-Zimbabwe frontier, a liberation site during Zambia’s support to the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.
Luangwa also has two sites which provide evidence of having been a transit point for slave trade.
There is a transit point – a holding cell for slaves and a cave where sick slaves were either thrown or buried.
The local authority is trying to promote the town as a shorter transit route to Harare in Zimbabwe and South.
Luangwa is 800 kilometres from Beit Bridge in South Africa while Chirundu Bridge is 1,800 kilometres away.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.

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