ALVIN CHIINGA, Mumbwa
A FEW decades ago, a person visiting the capital Lusaka from Mumbwa town would be referred to as a ‘Mumbwa Mumbwa’, due to the perceived backwardness of the town in terms of development.
This derogatory tag was coined to send a message that residents of Mumbwa district, perhaps even from surrounding areas, were not abreast with modern trends in life.
But the tag seems to have died a natural death now. A recent visit to the farming town tells the story.
“We are hoping to be considered as a municipality soon and this is what we are working towards achieving,” Mumbwa district commissioner, Felix Ndopu said in an interview recently.
With a population of over 200, 000 people, the district is now facing localised land shortage for cultivation due to increased agricultural activities.
It is not only agricultural activities that have taken centre stage but other developmental projects are underway that include infrastructure development among others.
Mr Ndopu says perhaps it was the negative perception of the district that has given impetus to the people in the area to yearn for development.
“The list is long, there is a lot of development happening in Mumbwa and soon, people that visited this place a long time will not recognise it if they came here,” he said.
True to Mr Ndopu’s sentiments, just on arrival at Mumbwa town, from Lusaka, there are massive road works going on at the new weigh- bridge.
There are several eye-catching projects that have already been completed and among these is the construction of the Big Concession and the Maimwene extension grid project by the Rural Electrification Authority at cost of K84.9 million.
Under the water sector, the district has seen the sinking of 40 boreholes at a cost of K1.4 million, much to the delight of villagers in all the seven chiefdoms.
In Chieftainess Kabulubulwe’s area of the Nkoya people, Margaret shimbili who has benefitted from the sinking of one of the boreholes, is thankful to Government.
“We used to get water for drinking from a stream over 5 Kilometers away which could also run dry in the dry season,” she said.
Several other women in the area share her sentiments and are happy.
In addition, health facilities in the area have received facelifts while new ones have been constructed.
The district, which received four health posts out of the 350 health posts that are to be constructed countrywide, has three of them operational.
Mr Ndopu is upbeat and says Mumbwa will never be the same again due to the myriad development projects that have been completed and some being underway.
Still under the health sector, a mothers’ waiting shelter was opened at Mumbwa District Hospital recently, making life for expectant mothers much easier.
Perhaps one of the areas that was lagging behind in terms of development was the road sector, including paved township roads which were a far-fetched dream for residents.
“Works are on progress at a cost of K144 million and about 4 kilometres of the 15.6 kilometres of the township roads have been tarred so far,” Mr Ndopu said.
One other outstanding developmental project that is underway in Mumbwa is the first ever trades training school which is being constructed at a cost of about K48 million.
It is envisaged that graduates from the trades institute will help spur commerce and entrepreneurial activities in Mumbwa town.
The first intake will enroll 160 students.
Mr Ndopu says Mumbwa has drastically changed in many aspects and will continue to do so because of Government’s overwhelming support.
Senior headwoman Tumbama in Chief Mumba’s area agrees that Mumbwa has been transformed from what it used to be some years back.
“Look at the business activities that the solar milling plants have triggered,” she said in an interview.
Some people talked to in the area, however, feel that some projects need to be prioritised if Mumbwa is to continue on its transformational path.
One such project is the Mumbwa- Kasempa road and the 28km road from Kasalu Primary School to Chief Shakumbila’s area in Nangoma.
Most people feel that the Mumbwa- Kasempa road is an important road which can make the movement of goods and services between Central and North-Western provinces easier.
Mr Ndopu summed up the interview with a challenge. “Those people who used to call people from Mumbwa as ‘Mumbwa’ should to come back to this town and see what is happening.”