CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe
ZAMBIA has witnessed the construction of new roads, upgrading of feeder roads and general infrastructure development, especially in rural areas where new districts have been created over the past couple of years.
Other than construction of roads to open up the country, other types of infrastructure being built are government offices, universities, colleges, new hospitals, health posts, police stations, houses for civil servants as well as post offices.
The Rural Electrification Authority is also making significant strides in electrifying infrastructure in rural areas such as government offices, health facilities, schools, chiefsâ€™ palaces and even grass-thatched houses.
To improve communication in rural areas, the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZCTA) has been erecting communication towers in areas where mobile phone services have been a challenge.
According to traditional leaders in Central Province, rural areas that have been neglected for a long time are now receiving attention in terms of construction of social and economic infrastructure.
As one of the traditional leaders who have been lobbying for development in their districts, Chief Chamuka of the Lenje people in Chisamba is a happy man.
This is because his chiefdom, located in Chisamba which was declared a district in November 2012 by late President Michael Sata, is slowly changing into a developed region.
Before becoming a district, Chisamba was part of Chibombo district â€“ an agrarian but underdeveloped vast region.
Coupled with lack of infrastructure and challenges in accessing social services like in other rural areas, the people of Chisamba felt they were not having a fair share of the national cake.
In welcoming the status of Chisamba as a district, Chief Chamuka reciprocated by releasing 320 hectares of land to Government to enable it develop infrastructure in the new district.
Construction works of infrastructure such as a district administration centre, civic centre, post office and housing units for civil servants, have been progressing well.
â€œAll these developmental works that are taking place in the district have brought employment for the people here and the standard of living has improved,â€ Chief Chamuka notes.
Infrastructure development in rural areas creates a conducive environment for furtherance of development and enhancing service provision to the people, the traditional leader says.
Apart from Chisamba, Ngabwe, Luano and Chitambo which are the new districts in Central Province, Itezhi tezhi, which was initially in Southern Province, is now also a new district in Central Province.
Like those in Central Province, traditional leaders across the country are eager to see development in their districts.
That is those in Central Province have pledged to work with the government in fostering development and improving service delivery in their respective chiefdoms.
â€œThe road network in Serenje is bad and it needs urgent attention. Chiefdom maps should also be made available to chiefs,â€ Chief Chibale recently said on behalf of traditional leaders in Chitambo and Serenje.
In achieving development and enhance delivery of services, the government appreciates the role chiefs play in governance.
â€œThatâ€™s why we realised that it is important to appreciate traditional leaders and partner with them in development, especially in rural parts of the country,â€ Vice President Inonge Wina said when she visited Serenje, Mkushi, Kapiri Mposhi, Kabwe, Chisamba and Chibombo districts.
Government is making milestone strides in constructing new roads, learning institutions, health facilities and rolling out the rural electrification programme to various parts of the country.
Mrs Wina noted that the establishment of new districts is also helping to enhance development and transforming Zambia into a better place to live in.
And in the spirit of continuity with infrastructure development, the government has been working on projects that were left uncompleted by the MMD administration.
â€œWe have big plans for Zambia. You can see if you look around, there is a lot of infrastructure coming up â€“ schools, roads, health posts and new districts,â€ Mrs Wina said.
She said despite Zambia being dependent on copper, the country is an agricultural hub in the region.
Mrs Wina said it is imperative to create a favourable agricultural environment for crop production to flourish in rural areas because majority of the people in the countryside are farmers.
Therefore, the government needs to prioritise the growth of agriculture in the country and efforts are being made to make the sector an engine of the countryâ€™s economy.
In achieving this goal, Mrs Wina said focus should be on crop diversification, mechanised agriculture, animal husbandry, fish farming and irrigation while ensuring that farmers access farm inputs on time.
Emphasis is also being placed on the Zambia National Service and Zambia Correctional Service to be fully involved in mechanised agriculture to boost crop production so that the country can be food secure.
Opening up rural areas should be sustained by improving feeder roads to facilitate connectivity between farming regions and the market.
Mrs Wina said Central Province, being an agricultural hub, is strategically located for establishment of agro-processing industries to add value to the crops grown in the area, thereby contributing to creation of employment opportunities.
Another avenue being explored in an effort to create job opportunities for youths in rural areas is through promotion of industrialisation.
Consequently, electrification of rural parts of the country is paramount in kick-starting industrialisation in rural areas.
Mrs Wina said Government will intensify the rural electrification programme so that many parts of the country are connected to the national grid.
â€œWe want to see young men and women carrying out businesses such as welding in villages,â€ Mrs Wina said.
â€œWe want to use our forestry resources for factories in rural areas to process timber instead of sending it out of the country in raw form.â€
In terms of the rural electrification programme, Chief Chamuka is a beneficiary as his palace has already been electrified along with Chamuka Primary School and a local court.
â€œIf we have roads and electricity, more development will come because good roads and electricity bring with them massive development,â€ Chief Chamuka said.
The traditional leader noted that electrification of rural areas is important because it is also a catalyst for attracting investors, promoting the growth of agriculture, improving the performance of pupils and it is a motivating factor for teachers.
â€œElectricity is a very important factor in economic development,â€ he said.
â€œLet other chiefdoms also be connected to the national grid as Government has a deliberate policy of promoting development in rural areas.â€
Construction of new infrastructure is a positive development in uplifting the status of rural districts, thereby opening them up for more development and improved service delivery.
CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe