Features In focus

Luampa district takes shape

KNOW YOUR DISTRICT By KELVIN KACHINGWE
IN the constituency office managed by a professional assistant Namata Mungalo, it lists its first Member of Parliament (MP) as Mainza Chona.
But some records suggest that in 1964, Mr Chona, who served in various capacities in Government before his death in December 2001 at the age of 71, was MP for Livingstone, having won the election against the African National Congress (ANC) candidate by a low majority of 463.
It is the reason why in 1969, fearful of losing the seat, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) asked him to stand in Mankoya (now Kaoma).
Jethro Mutti, who was MP for Mankoya in 1964, instead stood in Livingstone and won the seat for UNIP. Mr Mutti is remembered for his maiden speech in Parliament in April 1969 when he called on ministers to give up their luxury cars, claiming that they were the highest paid in Africa.
Asked to apologise, he refused and instead chose to resign only for him to rescind his decision after supporters in his constituency asked him to stay on.
However, that is another story.
Luampa, before being declared a district by President Sata in late 2012, has always been administered from Kaoma. Ideally, therefore, before it became a constituency, it should have belonged to Kaoma or Mankoya.
If that is the case, why then does Mr Mutti’s names not appear among the MPs to have served in Luampa in Ms Mungalo’s office? In fact, in the same office, it lists Liboma Liboma as having been the second MP from 1969 to 1974, followed by Morewaat Kapata (1974 – 1979), a Mr Musanju (1979 – 1991), man-of-the-people Stephen Manjata (1991 – 2006) and the current Josephine Limata (2006 to present).
Obviously, something did not work well administratively. This is one of the many problems of being administered from far.
In fact, Luampa has been facing administrative bottlenecks during the time it was being administered from Kaoma district.
“Just to pay a personal levy contribution to the council of K7.50, we had to go all the way to Kaoma, paying K70 in transport fares. But with the creation of the district, we just go to the mission hospital to pay,” Ms Mungalo says.
Luampa is certainly vast, and getting to Kaoma is not the easiest.
With an estimated population of about 41, 965 excluding children under the age of 18, Luampa, whose main source of livelihood is farming, which is done on a relatively small-scale level, certainly deserves to have services much closer. Even as a constituency, it is still vast.
There are plans to have Luampa Central and Luampa North as the two constituencies in the district.
Luampa Central, with a population of about 17, 874 excluding children under the age of 18, will take in Nyambi, Namando, Luampa, Mulua and Shikela as wards.
On the other hand, Luampa North, with a population of about 24, 091 people above 18 years, will get Namasheke, Mbanyutu, Lui, Nkoya, Valide, Ububa and Katunda.
The nearest entry point for Luampa is about 80 kilometres from Lusaka and 156 kilometres from Mongu, the provincial capital of Western Province. It borders Kaoma on the north, Nkeyema on the east, Mulobezi on the south-east, Senanga on the south and Mongu on the south-west.
In terms of health facilities, Luampa boasts of one hospital, nine rural health centres and two health posts.
The Luampa Mission Hospital, built in 1963, is run by the Evangelical Church in Zambia but with Government providing 75 percent of funding, staff and medicine. The church provides the infrastructure and the executive director.
It is at Luampa Mission Hospital that the new district administration is operating from. According to Luampa district administrator Alfred Miyato, all the departmental heads have moved in the area to start work although most of them are squatting in the villages.
But things are taking shape.
The Barotse Royal Establishment has already allocated land where to build the administration block. Government is expected to construct two high cost, 10 medium cost and 20 low cost houses in addition to a post office and a police station which will include staff houses.
“The district education board secretary and other senior staff are already in Luampa. The department of social welfare is also being run by an officer and two assistants.
“We are yet to get the district medical officer, but we have one acting and three fully trained doctors. We also have two labour officers and an assistant. There is also a department of culture with a skeleton staff,” Mr Miyato says.
“As it is a new district, the issue of water can’t be over-emphasised. So we have a department of water affairs and a district water affairs officer. We also have a buildings department which is under the Ministry of Works [Transport, Supply and Communications].
“As Luampa is rich in timber, we have a district forestry officer with one assistant. It’s also important that what is happening here is disseminated. So we have ZANIS [Zambia News and Information Services] and a district information officer. Also, in the past, people had to go to Kaoma to get National Registration Cards, but now, we have a department here.”
But like most newly-created districts, there are a lot of challenges.
The most pressing challenge is infrastructure, which has seen the district administration being allocated a block by the Evangelical Church in Zambia where all the departments are squatting with the exception of the Department of Agriculture, whose staff are mostly on the ground.
Electricity in Luampa, which has a poor television and radio reception despite being close to Kaoma, is another challenge.
In fact, this has been a challenge for a very long time.
For a long time, Luampa Mission Hospital, which has a catchment area of about 50 kilometres and is the only referral hospital there, has had to rely on a generator to run electrically powered equipment. The district administration is expected to ration its electricity, supplying two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.
The hospital’s oxygen concentrator could only be connected when electricity is supplied while ultra-sound scans could also only be conducted when power is provided. The hospital’s laboratories could only operate its most basic equipment under overwhelming pressure.
The few hours the hospital could supply thermo-power through its 150 kVA generator, means getting into half of the hospital’s budget. But there are machines that cannot run on thermo power and as such patients have to be transported to Lewanika General Hospital in Mongu.
That is why the construction of a 66/33/11kV ground-mounted transformer under the Rural Electrification Authority (REA), a follow-up on the construction of an 11kV line under the 2010 rural electrification programme, has come as a relief.
But there is a problem.
“Progress has been slow. We should have been connected to the grid by January. We have been putting pressure on the contractor and at least now they have completed civil engineering works and are just waiting for electrical equipment from China,” Mr Miyota, the district commissioner says.
The problem of electricity is also felt at Luampa Secondary School, which runs a weekly boarding. Luampa has 57 schools and one secondary school.
There is however another challenge in Luampa, whose main form of transport for the residents is mostly bicycles and motorbikes.
The bad road network
“We hope to work on the roads, which are in a bad state, next year. The provincial permanent secretary sent officials here to see which roads can be worked on next year, which we are calling constructional year.
“As for the CDF [Constituency Development Fund], it is also going towards improving the school and health infrastructure as well as the water supply in all the wards. Agriculture-wise, we didn’t do well previously despite farmers receiving the farm input support.
“This is because the soil here is mainly sandy. The main staple crop is cassava while maize is grown at a small rate with millet. Personnel from the Department of Agriculture are sensitising farmers on the latest approaches in agriculture.
“We also need to clear canals on Luampa River. There has been a blockage of water causing it to stagnant which led to cases of bilharzia. Fortunately, the medical staff is on the ground and the situation is under control,” Mr Miyota says.
Despite the challenges Luampa faces as a new district, the workers who have been sent there are willing to give their all.
“They have come here as pioneers, most of them are squatting in villages, but they are happy to offer their services,” he says.

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