MALUMO SILUMESI, Kabwe
ON OCTOBER 24, 2015, Vice President Inonge Wina launched the construction of the Jubilee Integrated Women Highway Market in Chibombo district.The market is being built at John Chinena, one of the biggest highway markets on Great North Road, where peasants sell farm produce in an unsanitary environment and at a dangerous proximity to the main road.
The project is being implemented under public private partnership with the Jubilee Integrated Women Highway Market advisory team.
Government intends to build similar highway markets at places where women conduct their businesses to facilitate their business.
In the case of Chibombo, the market is under construction at a place called John Chinena in Mukalashe area.
Under the Jubilee Women Integrated Highway Programme, 10 markets will be built across the country.
Highway markets are major stopovers for travellers who want to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and handcrafts such as baskets, reed mats and other home essentials.
The project at John Chinena is in progress, and Mrs Wina who recently visited the site is happy with the quality of work being down.
The Vice President initiated the building of highway markets because of the challenges traders in affected communities face in terms of access to suitable and sanitary trading places.
“Our motivation and vision for doing this project, which I shared with you on 23rd October 2015, is to turn this beautiful site into a world class model for sustainable women empowerment and entrepreneurship development in the country,” Mrs Wina said.
She said Government is determined to improve the wellbeing of women in the country and one way of doing so is by providing them with better market places.
Women empowerment through entrepreneurship has potential to change their fortunes and contribute to the economic growth of Zambia.
“Indeed, we have a will as a country, and we have found a way of transforming road markets countrywide into multi-purpose centres which we can all be proud of,” she said.
Traders at John Chinena are happy that their trading site has been selected to host the first Jubilee Integrated Women Highway Market in the country.
One of the traders, Esther Mulayisha said their trading spot is prone to road traffic accidents because of its proximity to the Great North Road. Apart from that, the market which has grown over the years, lacks running water and toilets.
Ms Mulayisha who was found selling butternuts and watermelons said despite the harsh conditions traders at the market face, business runs as usual because there is no alternative place in their farm community.
“It not easy for us here in rural areas to earn a living, we survive by trading on the highway,” Ms Mulayisha said.
“That is where we find money to feed our families and take children to school.”
Her colleague, Bridget Mweene, 45, said their market is prone to waterborne diseases but she has no choice but to continue subsisting on the vegetable business.
Ms Mweene who deals in tomatoes, vegetables and fruits, said she is the major breadwinner of her family.
“My dear this place is not good for us, but we have no choice because we have nowhere to go,” she said.
Mrs Mweene is looking forward to a day when she will conduct business in a safe and sanitary environment when the market under construction is completed.
Stanbic Bank is one the corporate bodies that are supporting the building of Jubilee Integrated Women Highway Market.
The bank’s board chairperson Austin Mwape said Stanbic has contributed K1.8 million towards the building of the market.
Dr Mwape said by supporting the initiative, his bank is contributing to national development through the empowerment of medium and small entrepreneurs.
And Jubilee Integrated Women Highway Market advisory team chairperson Gladys Mutukwa said when the market at John Chinena is completed, the facility will improve the wellbeing of women who earn their living by trading on the roadside.
“I am glad that Government has good plans for its citizens like us the marketers here in Chibombo district. As marketers, we shall continue working with this Government because it has a vision for the people,” she said.
As for Glenda Mulenga, 35, who sells cabbages and onions, she commended the Vice President for coming to the aid of traders at John Chinena.
“What else can we ask from her? Government is giving us a modern market with decent toilets. I am really happy,” an elated Ms Mulenga said.
Ms Mulenga said providing better trading areas is one effective way of empowering women to look after their families and enabling them to contribute to national development.
“This country will see meaningful development once most of the women are empowered. We are hard workers as women and we shall surely take this country to higher heights,” Mrs Mulenga said.
Apart from being provided with a safe and healthy trading place, traders at John Chinena will also undergo training in financial literacy.
MALUMO SILUMESI, Kabwe