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Masaiti: Land of limestone, precious stones

MASAITI is witnessing enormous economic growth as a result of the mineral deposits such as limestone, which the rural Copperbelt district is endowed with.
Over the past three years, the district has attracted a number of companies that have set up base in the area. Such firms include Nigerian conglomerate Dangote Industries ,which recently commissioned a US$400 million cement plant, Neelkanth Lime Limited, and Handyman’s Paradise which is producing lime in Masaiti.
Apart from limestone, Masaiti is also blessed with precious stones, although they are mined on a small -scale level.
Located in the south-eastern part of the Copperbelt Province, Masaiti lies on a total area of 5,383 square kilometres, and has a population of 107,221 of which 49 percent are females while 51 percent are males.
Masaiti is surrounded by six districts, which are Mkushi in the south-east, Kapiri Mposhi in the south, Mpongwe in the south-west, Lufwanyama in the west, Luanshya to the northwest and Ndola in the northern direction.
The district also shares its border with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Politically, the district has two constituencies, namely Kafulafuta and Masaiti itself. Kafulafuta houses seven wards while Masaiti has 10 wards, bringing the total number of wards in the district to 17.
The district has three chiefdoms; Chiwala, Nkambo and Mushili.
Masaiti District Council water and sanitation coordinator John Musonda says the district has great potential for industrial growth as evidenced by the fact that it has attracted a number of both local and foreign firms that have expressed interest in setting up their businesses in the area.
“There are many investors willing to invest in the district, and the outlook of the district is improving with modern structures,” Mr Musonda says.
In this sector, Mr Musonda says government has completed the construction of a district hospital and is expected to commission the facility any time soon. The district also has 19 health centres and seven health posts. Before the commissioning of the new district hospital, the local people mainly access health services at hospitals in Mpongwe and Luanshya.
Government has constructed a new boarding school called Masaiti Boarding Secondary School. Seven other old secondary schools are found in the district, including a number of primary schools found within a radius five of kilometres.
The district has vast land for agricultural purposes with many white farmers interested to invest on the farms. The main crops that are grown in Masaiti are maize, sweet potatoes and vegetables, among others.
The district’s main tourist attractions are Nsobe Game Camp which is home of zebra, sable, black lechwe, sitatunga and 14 other antelope species. The place also boasts of Chilengwa Sunken Lake which is situated in Chief Chiwala’s area. There is also a hot spring in Chief Chiwala’s area under Mukulungwe River. Other rivers found in Masaiti are Kafubu, Masaiti and Kafulafuta.
The district is blessed with limestone which has attracted a good number of mining firms over the past three years. The firms include Dangote Cement, Neelkanth Lime and Cement as well as Handyman’s Paradise. Precious stones are also mined on a small-scale level within the district.
In partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Masaiti District Council is currently sinking 20 boreholes at a cost of over K700, 000. Chief Chiwala’s area has also been declared free from open defecation. This follows a community-led total sanitation programme which the district had embarked on to encourage every household to construct a latrine and stop practising open defecation.
The district has also intensified efforts to upgrade feeder roads using the recently commissioned K1.6 million earth moving equipment which was bought by the local authority using Constituency Development Funds. The equipment include a grader, tipper truck and backhoe loader.
“This equipment is in the field and we are opening up feeder roads. We are also working on township roads, right now we are half-way done on Tag Agan road,” Mr Musonda said.
Mr Musonda said Masaiti has seen unprecedented infrastructure development, including the landscaping of the district, which has helped change the face of the area.