CONSTITUENCY WATCH with DARLINGTON MWENDABAI, Sinda
ALTHOUGH Levy Ngoma has been member of Parliament for Sinda since 2001, first elected on the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) ticket, then the United Democratic Party (UDA) in 2006, and then the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in 2011, he should be among the first to admit that the constituency has been underdeveloped for a long time.
It is only in 2012, after its declaration as a district that the face of Sinda constituency started to change.
One of the major complaints of those visiting Sinda and hoping to stay for a night is the lack of decent accommodation. Because it lies between Petauke and Katete, visitors often have to go to these areas to find accommodation.
Sinda is bordered by Petauke on the west and Katete on the east.
With a population of about 164,382 based on the 2010 Central Statistical Office census,Â Sinda constituency which has 32,178 registered voters according to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) 2011 records and boasts of 14 wards.
Mr Ngoma, who resides in Sinda, only comes to Lusaka when Parliament is in session, can point to a number of developmental projects in this constituencyÂ which is dependent on mainly agriculture, trade and commerce.
Already boasting of Nyanje Mission Hospital, which is a referral health institution, the area MP says most wards have benefited from health facilities, which have been built using either the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or funds from central government.
Out of the 650 health posts to be constructed countrywide, Sinda is expected to get five; among them Mayela, Mulilo and Chibuyu. And from the CDF, Chaufu and Champhala rural health centres are being constructed. The projects started last year.
Sinda has also benefited from Governmentâ€™s pre-fabricated health posts, construction of staff houses, incinerators and toilets. Two pre-fabricated health posts will be constructed in the constituency.
The construction of the pre-fabricated health posts started in 2015 and would be completed in 2016.
Additionally, each health centre is able to order medicine on its own as each one has qualified staff. Without qualified staff, a health centre cannot order medicines.
On the education front, Sinda has Chasa Boarding School, which is quite well-known in the Eastern Province if not the whole country, St Paul and Peter Day Secondary School (formerly Chasa Basic School), Nyanje Day, Mbwindi Day, Seya Day and the now Sinda Day Secondary School.
In total, Sinda has 84 schools of which 55 are primary and 24 community. The challenge now is to build more secondary schools because of the distances pupils have to travel to attend classes.
In addition, the constituency lacks a higher learning institution.
Also, there are no banking facilities in the constituency which is a major area of concern for the MP, who took over from Ephraim Kamwinga of the MMD.Â Mr Kamwinga succeeded Naphtali Phiri of the United National Independence Party (UNIP).
Mr Ngoma is urging the business community to consider investing in the area. Currently, the constituency relies on the post office as a paying point for some farmers who may have supplied their produce to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) while civil servants travel to either Petauke or Katete to get their salaries due to lack of banking facilities.
Although the distance from Sinda to Katete and Petauke is not extensive, a bank is a necessity for the area, particularly with the active trade between Mozambicans and Zambians.
While Mozambique has immigration on its side, Zambia does not and as such, there is no control in terms of the movement of the people across borders.
Another reason why a banking facility is important in Sinda is because of the many construction projects that are going on, which have led to job creation.
For example, from 2012-2014, over 788 jobs have been created both in the formal and informal sectors of the local economy. The construction industry then accounted for 254 workers with the remaining 534 being civil servants.
Some of the construction projects in the area have involved constructing the district commissionerâ€™s house which started in 2013, a police station and 10 houses for police officers and Sinda Day Secondary School, which is almost complete and ready to be handed over this year.
Sinda district administration officer Codrington Sakala, although happy with the projects being undertaken using the CDF and money from the national treasury, is concerned with the slow pace of the construction of 10 medium cost housing units by Saja General Dealers which are being built at a cost of K650,000.
The project started in 2013 but has not been completed because the contractor at one time abandoned the site. The project, which is being funded by Sinda District Council, could have been completed last year but has stalled.
It is not the only area of concern, the area MP is also concerned about the works (or lack of) on the urban roads saying the contractor, Build Trust, has done less than a kilometre of the works.
He is demanding seriousness from the local contractor.
Anyhow, the electorate in Sinda constituency are happy with the developmental projects being undertaken in the area. However, they do not know whether to credit the MP or the central government.
William Banda, who sells airtime at Sinda bus station says the MP is only seen during election times.
â€œBut we are lucky to have a listening Government which is bringing developmentâ€¦ We only started seeing development here when President Sata declared it a district,â€ Banda, who grew up in the area, says.
However, Jason Phiri, who was also born and bred in Sinda and runs a barbershop in town, says the face of the constituency has changed, and attributes this to the area MP who he says urges Government to bring development to the constituency.
Whatever the case, Sinda is certainly a constituency on the move.
Registered voters according to 2011 ECZ records stood at 32,178
Population of Sinda: 164,322.
Member of Parliament: Levy Ngoma (2001 to2011 – FDD), (2011 to date – MMD)