CONSTITUENCY WATCH with CHRISTINE CHISHA, Petauke
LOCATED 400 kilometres from the capital city Lusaka, is Petauke Central constituency popularly referred to by the locals as the hub of agriculture.
The constituency is situated in Petauke district which is also home to two other constituencies namely: Msanzala and Kapoche.
The constituency is at a height of development which has seen rehabilitation of roads, building of farmersâ€™ slabs, market shelters and construction of schools. Just like the name is, Petauke Central constituency is situated in the central business district of Petauke. A peep at the Boma office greets one with a crowd of small-scale farmers waiting to receive farming inputs under the farmer input support programme (FISP).
One wonders whether the three years in which the people of Petauke Central lived without parliamentary representation has led to massive infrastructure development after the re-election of Dora Siliya early this year.
â€œWe were looking forward to a time when we would have representation in Parliament. We were not happy that it took so long for the court to conclude the court case. We could only see government projects at a slow pace but with the coming in of Ms Siliya, we are witnessing massive development,â€ Luka Phiri, a resident of the district said.
Mr Phiri said it is pleasing that drainages are being worked on, roads are being tarred both township and main roads and farmers have started receiving inputs.
â€œOur main concern was farmers inputs especially that this constituency is situated in an agricultural area. We depend on farming; it is our source of living no wonder all the people are at the Boma pushing to get inputs,â€ Mr Phiri added.
Farmers in the constituency produce maize, cotton, sunflower, groundnuts, soya beans and many other crops.
District commissioner Velenesi Moyo said Petauke, being a farming hub, is growing by leaps and bounds as government is committed to ensuring that farmersâ€™ welfare is taken care of.
Government has paid K31 million to Petauke farmerswho sold their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) during the 2014/15 marketing season.
And the district has received all the farming inputs for the 2015/16 farming season.
Ms Moyo said the entire K31 million is sitting in the banks and all that is remaining is for the farmers to collect their money from the banks.
Ms Moyo said the district sold over 400,000 bags of maize to FRA and the transportation of the commodity to Lusaka has started.
â€œOur farmers are very happy. They have received their money in good time and those who may have not received, just need to go to the bank,â€ she said.
She said this will help the farmers plan well for the 2015/16 farming season.
Ms Moyo said over 59,000 bags of basil dressing and 55,000 sacks of top dressing allocated to the district have been received.
She said the district has also received over 27,000 bags of maize seed.
â€œWe have all the inputs but the challenge we have is storage space, hence some of our inputs have been stored in Katete,â€ Ms Moyo said.
Ms Moyo is optimistic that all the farmers will plant early owing to the fact that all the farming inputs have been delivered in good time and commended the government for the development.
In the road sector, the projects underway are the construction of Nyati/Simambumbu road in Chilimanyama ward and upgrading of 19.5-kilometre township roads to bituminous standard in Nyika ward.
Situated in the central business district, Petauke Central constituency has experienced noticeable developmental projects and among them is the rehabilitation of Office of the President building, rehabilitation of district administration block and rehabilitation of district commissionerâ€™s official house.
In infrastructure development in the agriculture sector, the constituency has benefited through the construction of two Food Reserve Agency (FRA) storage sheds, rehabilitation of Farmers Training Centre (FTC). Phase one of the works are completed such as two dormitories and two ablution blocks have been rehabilitated.
The rehabilitation of a dip tank at Chitimba in Kovyane ward and rehabilitation of veterinary staff houses is awaiting funding.
In the health sector, the constituency has seen the rehabilitation of staff houses at Kalindawalo, Mumbi and Merwe rural health centres (RHCS) in Kovyane ward.
Other projects are the electrification of Mumbi Health Centre, Kalindawalo, Mumbi RHC and Mumbi Primary School and works are completed.
In the education sector, the construction of studentsâ€™ hostels at Ukwimi Trades Training Institute where 30 percent of the works have already been done which includes the construction of a staff house and toilets at Tasala Primary School in Nyika ward.
Other infrastructure projects in the education sector include, the construction of three classrooms at Chisenjere Primary School in Kovyane ward, and cnstruction of three classrooms at Lutwazi Day Secondary School in Nyika ward.
The construction of a classroom at Kawere Primary School in Chilimanyama ward has been completed and the structure is being painted.
Construction of two staff houses at Chumbe Primary School in Ongolwe ward. Construction of two classrooms at Chileka Primary School in Kovyane ward and construction of two classrooms at Kaulu Day Secondary School in Mbala ward.
Completion of a three classrooms at Mizyu Primary School in Nyika ward, construction of three classrooms at Chilimanyama Primary School in Chilimanyama ward and construction of a staff house at Kangâ€™ambwa Primary School in Nsimbo ward.Â In Ongolwe ward, construction of two classrooms at Chisewa Community School.
Like many rural constituencies, Petauke has water challenges and this has necessitated the drilling of 20 boreholes in all the seven wards of the constituency, and 90 percent of the works have been done.
Patrick Nyirenda, Ms Siliyaâ€™s professional assistant, said construction of Msumbazi Bridge in Msumbazi ward has been completed.
Completion of showgrounds market shelter in Nyika ward, rehabilitation of council Pre-School in Nyika ward and completion of science laboratory at Kaulu Day Secondary School in Mbala ward.
Mr Nyirenda said other projects being undertaken in Petauke constituency are the construction of a community resource centre at Chamanika village in Mbala ward under Mshashapango Womenâ€™s Group.
Apart from the massive infrastructure development, Petauke Central boasts of having two community radio stations; the most popular station is Radio Explorers, which covers up to 120 kilometres.
Radio Explorers is mostly used by chiefs to disseminate their information. And the other is Pasme community radio station.
The constituency now has the reception of the three major cellular providers in the country – Airtel, Zamtel and MTN.
Industries include, food production, cotton ginning and opaque beer brewing.
CONSTITUENCY WATCH with CHRISTINE CHISHA, Petauke