ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka & DARLINGTON MWENDABAI, Chipata
PRESIDENT Lungu yesterday declared Chipata a city and challenged stakeholders to seize the opportunity to enhance trade with neighbouring Malawi.
President Lungu said Chipata has met all the benchmarks of the status of a city. The proclamation comes into effect today.
President Lungu said the proclamation of city status is a great achievement for Chipata Municipal Council and urged other towns to take a leaf from the municipality.
â€œIt is now my singular privilege to exercise my powers contained under sections Three and Four of the Local Government Act, CAP 281 of the Laws of Zambia to proclaim that the status of a city is hereby conferred on the municipality of Chipata. Henceforth, it shall be known as the City of Chipata,â€ he said amid ululation from the residents.
He said there is great potential in the agricultural sector in Chipata and, as such, investors should take advantage.
The President said the local authority, working together with the traditional leadership, should provide land to investors to develop the district.
He said Chipata city has a population of over 200,000 people, a well-defined central business district with over 11 banks and improved road infrastructure.
President Lungu said the level of key services such as hotels which meet international standards and well defined public services are the other benchmarks that made the town attain city status.
He said Government will not hesitate to upgrade any town that meets such criteria as proved by Chipata town.
President Lungu said the profile of Chipata district has now been improved and there will also be improved service delivery.
He implored the residents of Chipata to ensure that the elevation of the town succeeds and he urged the provincial administration to carry on with the momentum.
President Lungu also said Government would look for funds to ensure the Petauke-Mchinji railway line comes to fruition.
And shortly after declaring Chipata a city, President Lungu jogged from Chipata Civic Centre to Luangwa House Lodge alongside the residents signifying that he is now Freeman of the City.
And speaking shortly after arrival at Chipata Airport, President Lungu urged the people to co-exist regardless of their political affiliation.
He said that he is the only President until 2021 and no-one should think that there is some other President.
And Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale said his ministry has sent a circular to all councils bringing out the modalities on how councils can either become municipalities or cities.
Mr Mwale challenged all councils countrywide to emulate Chipata Municipal Council by attaining city status.
He said that the proclamation of Chipata to city status is a milestone and a dream-come-true.
And CHIMWEMWE MWALE reports that the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) has paid glowing tribute to President Lungu for upgrading Chipata Municipal Council to city status.
LGAZ president Christopher Kangâ€™ombe described the gesture by the head of State as a â€œfavourable considerationâ€ following the petition made by Chipata Municipal Council to be upgraded to city status.
Mr Kangâ€™ombe recalled that the last time a similar event took place was in 1996 when Livingstone was upgraded to city status.
â€œIndeed there could be other councils which may wish to be granted higher status. LGAZ hopes and trusts that deserving municipal councils will take a leaf from Chipata and petition the President or the Minister of Local Government, as the case may be, for upgrading to higher status.
â€œOn behalf of the local government fraternity in Zambia, I wish to congratulate His Worship the Mayor, Aldermen, Councillors, Officers and the people of Chipata for this historic and memorable achievement,â€ he said in a statement yesterday.
Meanwhile, Chipata city was a hive of activity as residents jogged with President Lungu from Chipata Civic Centre to Luangwa House to welcome the declaration of Chipata as a city
Eastern Province minister Makebi Zulu, Patriotic Front (PF) Eastern Province chairperson Andrew Lubusha, school children and residents, mainly youths, said jogging with the President was a rare opportunity.
The excited youths said it was an honour that the head of State exhibited such humility.
Mr Zulu thanked the President for the gesture.
Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Thomas Mtonga commended the President for the gesture.
Mr Mtonga said Chipata city will now attract an inflow of investors and improved public service delivery.
Eastern Province Hotel and Catering Association of Zambia (HCAZ) chairperson Elvis Mhone described President Lungu as a listening leader who has fulfilled his promises of making Chipata town a city.
Luangwa House lodge manager Carol Temba said more tourists are expected to flock to the lodges and this will result in the development of the hospitality industry in the city.
Paramount Chief Mpezeni and Ngoni chiefs were in attendance to witness the historic event.
The traditional leader was happy that his plea and those of others were fulfilled yesterday when President Lungu made Chipata a city.
Chipata mayor Sinoya Mwale commended President Lungu, Chief Mpezeni, the business community, faith-based organisations and Chipata residents for their support.
And speaking when President Lungu paid a courtesy call on him at his Laweni palace, Paramount Chief Mpezeni said he is happy with infrastructure projects such as roads and palaces among others.
ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka & DARLINGTON MWENDABAI, Chipata