Editor's Comment

Modernisation of CBD long overdue

A PROMINENT Spanish surrealist, Salvador Dali, said, “Don’t bother about being modern. Unfortunately, it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.”
True to Mr Dali’s words, the world keeps on evolving with people’s perceptions and the way they do things is also changing.
Everywhere in the world, the way people do things, the quality of life and environments they live in, keep on improving to suit modern trends.
For instance, the clothes people wear today are by far much more improved than what was worn 50 years ago.
The cars people drive, the houses people live in, the working and trading places, infrastructure and many other things keep on improving in tandem with modern trends.
It is also true that what looked good and trendy many years ago can no longer be attractive in the present day.
What may have been user-friendly 50 years ago may not be so today because of the many changes that are taking place through human development.
Embracing modernity across all facets of life is, therefore, inevitable and non-negotiable.
It should, therefore, concern us that the capital city’s central business district (CBD) has continued to bear an ancient face over 50 years after independence.
For this reason, we welcome the directive by President Edgar Lungu for the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to come up with stringent measures for property owners in the CBD to renovate and modernise their infrastructure or close down their businesses.
President Lungu said there is need for integrated planning and modernisation of the CBD to lower the cost of doing business.
The head of State is certainly right that the CBD gives the impression of the country to the outside world and must, therefore, be of a high standard.
“Government is in a hurry to develop this country. Some structures in the CBD have remained the same since independence. I challenge the mayor of Lusaka and his team to put in stringent measures to modernise the city. Most of the infrastructure requires demolition and replacement,” he said.
The CBD is the focal point of a city – it is the commercial office and retail centre of the city, as well as the centre point for public transportation.
The CBD is an important part of the city and therefore needs to be maintained in a way that adds value.
While it is commendable that street vending, which has been an eyesore in the CBD for a long time, is being managed, infrastructure also needs to be modernised.
President Lungu, who has travelled extensively and has been exposed to many countries, understands that the CBD should be the source of pride and attraction. It should reflect the values and standards of the country as a whole.
Despite massive modern infrastructure development witnessed in other areas, the CBD as the focal point has remained static for decades and has become an eyesore to the image of the city and country as a whole.
For instance, if the CBD, in its current state, is the only place a first-time international visitor manages to see, they will certainly go back with a distorted and negative image of the country.
This is what we must guard against as a country considering that CBDs, because of their convenient nature, are usually frequented by visitors.
While the picture may seem so gloomy, it is heartening that National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) has kick-started the process of modernising the CBD through the construction of Society Business Park. The K999 million facility, which houses a hotel, offices and shops, among others, has certainly added beauty to the CBD and the city.
However, to completely transform the place, there is need for all property owners to modernise their infrastructure.
This calls for demolition of old structures to replace them with modern ones.
Business owners should not only be interested in making profits, but must be seen to practise good corporate citizenship by adding value to their trading areas and, subsequently, the CBD.
Business owners also need to ensure that their properties are not only modern and attractive, but also easily accessible to the disabled.
The Lusaka City Council (LCC) should therefore rise up to the challenge thrown at them by the head of State.
The council should start working on measures of how to modernise the CBD.
The LCC should consider issuing a statutory instrument to compel property owners to modernise their infrastructure, failure to which they should move, as proposed by President Lungu.
If some property owners cannot afford to modernise their infrastructure, they should consider selling them to those with the capacity to do so.
Modernisation of our CBD is long overdue.

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