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Minister’s visit to police camps vital

THE visit to Lusaka’s Sikanze Police camp by Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila on Monday this week was very significant.
Mr Mwila took time off his busy schedule to familiarise himself with the living conditions of policemen who play a critical role in safeguarding peace and security this country has enjoyed over the years.
Mr Mwila saw for himself that police officers’ living conditions are pathetic.
The minister visited the barracks and saw for himself the kind of structures his policemen live in. Most of the houses in Sikanze are dilapidated.
Sikanze police camp is very old and needs reconstruction. That is why living there by police officers have not been pleasant at all.
Little wonder the camp faces a number of challenges, ranging from dilapidated houses to poor water and reticulation, which the minister saw for himself when he toured the area.
By touring Sikanze, Mr Mwila confirmed that despite the challenges the police officers are facing, the government has not neglected their welfare.
If anything, Government is considering constructing decent houses for them instead of leaving them to suffer in the dilapidated conditions.
The planned 10,000 housing units to be constructed for police officers across the country is welcome.
The gesture by Government comes at a time when the poor living conditions compromise the commitment of the men and women in uniform.
Policemen have tough work schedules in trying to bring the crime rate in the country to manageable levels and their work should be complemented by acceptable living conditions.
Therefore, Government’s intentions to prioritise the living conditions for the police is commendable.
Like Mr Mwila observed during his tour to Sikanze where water and reticulation is poor, such conditions make the men in uniform and their families vulnerable to diseases.
Mr Mwila, who also visited Longacres police post and Chelstone police camp, highlighted the government’s desire to put up good structures for the police to live in.
Mr Mwila said 45 houses will be constructed at Chelstone police camp.
Government has already demonstrated its commitment to improving the well-being of the police by raising their salaries.
The salary increment of two years ago by Government was unprecedented and has raised the morale of the police.
This is why the police service, which was being shunned a long time ago by school leavers and graduates, is now on demand.
Government should take drastic steps to spruce up Sikanze police camp to make it attractive for living by the police officers.
This includes razing the operational paramilitary camp and coming up with decent housing model to raise the morale and profile of the men and women tasked to ensure peace and security in the country.
The minister should come to the plight of the officers, especially girl-children, who often have to cross Burma Road to access water in another neighborhood.
It is our hope that a deal with Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company will be sealed soon to ensure water flows in the company.
Being closer to the central business district, Sikanze should shine at all times, so should the other police camps countrywide.