BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
IF THEY were not laughing as the name of their trading place, Seka suggests, Kaunda Square Stage One residents were overjoyed when Zambia National Service commandant Nathan Mulenga visited the area.
They sang as ZNS commandant’s vehicle neared the market in Lusaka.
The marketeers, mostly women could not hide their joy as Lieutenant General Mulenga arrived to hand over the market ZNS had been constructing.
“Mwaiseni ba commander wesu, tatwaishibe tukamonana. Lesa ewamaka yonse, chawama lelo (welcome our commander, we never knew we would meet but because of God’s grace [we have met. How nice it is today],” the women sang in welcoming Gen Mulenga.
Their joy was justified: the marketeers will now be trading in a conducive environment as the facility has been upgraded.
It is not just the two sheds and 59 shops which have been modernised, the market has waterborne toilets with running water and showers. They will be bathing hot water as a geyser has been installed.
Their dignity has been restored.
As Lieutenant General Mulenga toured the market, traders showered praises on him.
Addressing the marketeers after touring the facility, Gen Mulenga said the role of the ZNS was to fulfil the mandate obligated to it by Government.
“Works speak for themselves, the facility is almost complete and we are handing it over to the relevant authorities,” Gen. Mulenga told the excited marketeers.
He said ZNS is handing over the market in line with the promise of finishing work on December 15.
“The President [Edgar Lungu] asked us to finish this [structure],” he said of the market which the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit [DMMU] and the Lusaka City Council previously attempted to upgrade.
Gen Mulenga said he is happy the marketeers will be trading in a conductive environment as desired by President Lungu.
He appealed to the marketeers not to vandalise the market.
“Baliposa ulupiya ba Government,” Gen Mulenga said.
ZNS land development branch director Lawrence Sampa said about K1,767,000.00 has been spent on reconstructing the market.
“This amount is not inclusive of what DMMU spent but what ZNS has spent from last month,” Brigadier-General Sampa told journalists on site.
Munali ward 33 councillor Sylvester Mulenga said the reconstruction of the market by ZNS paid dividends not just by the pace of the works but it has expanded the trading places.
From the previous 120 stands, there are now 280.
This means that there will be more people trading at the market.
Mr Mulenga said he will meet with stakeholders to redesigned the stands while shops will be given back to the former owners.
Mr Mulenga said going by the pace at which ZNS has constructed the structure, there is capacity by local institutions to put up decent infrastructure.
Doreen Chileshe, a marketeer remarked that traders will be feeling like they are in London.
“We should be relying on our manpower, they [ZNS] have proved they can do it. ZNS and Zambia Army are able to do it. This market will stand the test of time,” Ms Takiness Kamanga, 70, said.
She has been trading at Kaunda Square market since 1973.
Aaron Zimba, 39, who has been eking a living at the market since 1999 said their sacrifice has paid off.
“We waited for this market to be completed, thanks officers [ZNS] for building [us this market],” he said.
Market chairperson Ackim Muvwanga was over the moon:” [this new market] has toilets with showers with hot water. We used to draw water from drums,” he remembers. The construction of the market by the LCC and DMMU, spearheaded by the area Member of Parliament Nkandu Luo, started constructing in 2015.
The project was funded by LCC through the DMMU but the latter pulled out in March 2017.
“DMMU was in charge of purchasing materials and paying casual workers and daily operations on site. The project has however continued,” LCC acting public relations manager George Sichimba said.
Mr Sichimba said ZNS has been the contractor because it was realised that being a State institution, they are relatively cheaper than private contractors and they will be paid by council.
“So far, K1,433,512.27 had been spent on sheds and there was additional funding of K1million for construction of shops,” Mr Sichimba said.
DMMU built the two sheds while ZNS fast-tracked the construction of the 59 shops using its internally generated resources.
The fast-track followed President Lungu’s directive to the ZNS to complete the project.
ZNS built the 59 shops and other ancillaries in a record one month.
The market, initially known as Seka Seka, was founded by traders in 1973 and there has been no rehabilitation since then.
However, with time, the structures became dilapidated and became a risk to both traders and shoppers.
The DMMU declared it a disaster in April 2015.
Mr Mulenga said initial construction was funded through the Constituency Development Fund when K1 million was availed, while a further K350,000 was solicited from the ward development fund.