Editor's Comment

We’ve to pay price for neglect

DEBRIS of make- shift stalls piled along Lumumba Road in Lusaka after defence forces moved vendors out of the streets. Right, Cairo Road after the clean up recently. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

ECONOMIC activities in Lusaka have come to a virtual stand-still following the closure of markets and other trading places.

It is not just the economy of the capital city which has stagnated, so have the lives of people who rely on trading for their livelihood.
Hardworking farmers, too, have been negatively impacted as they cannot supply their produce since the markets are closed.
Even some supermarkets and eating outlets have also suffered the same fate as the crackdown on cholera is heightened.
The closure of trading places such as markets also means that local authorities’ revenue collection will be greatly affected.
But this is inevitable as Government has to sanitise the capital city and other towns following the outbreak of cholera which was almost getting out of hand.
The filth of the capital city and other towns had gotten out of hand and if Government did not intervene, cholera was going to claim many more lives than the dozens that have succumbed to the waterborne disease that thrives in dirty surroundings.
It didn’t have to come to this. Cleanliness must be a way of life and not something forced on people.
This business as usual attitude by many citizens, especially traders, is what forced Government to move in and close trading and other places to get rid of cholera.
In any case, these forced closures are a small price to pay compared to any loss of life.
The situation in our markets and streets was getting out of hand to an extent that the traders were no longer willing to listen to advice from civic and medical authorities.
Because our traders were not willing to heed the advice of the public health authorities, waste management was no longer their responsibility.
The care-free attitude meant that they could not dispose of waste from their trading places and as a result, garbage mounted as they watched.
This prompted Government to deploy defence forces and security wings to take up the responsibility of waste management.
For the defence forces and security wings to effectively remove the filth, trading places had to be shut down, leading to the selective lockdown of some portions of the city.
Sooner or later, the city will be cholera-free again and will be cleaner than it has never been in a long, long time.
As President Lungu has assured, markets and other trading places will systematically be re-opened once standards and requirements of hygiene are met.
Traders should take note of President Lungu’s statement that Government is putting in place long-term measures to avoid a recurrence of cholera.
This long term solution is not for Government alone. In fact, the biggest responsibility is that of each person taking due care of his or her respective place of residence, business or work.
The streets are clearly not meant for trading and for them to remain as refreshing as they are turning out to be, through the on-going clean up, no business should be allowed on them.
We hope that the local authorities across the country have been energised by the national clean-up programme. There must be a permanent and serious clean-up programme beyond the threat posed by cholera.
There is the ‘Make Zambia clean and healthy’ campaign, which was conveniently ignored by citizens.
The Ministry of Local Government has a very good reason to re-launch the programme and ensure that this time around, it becomes a way of life.
It is possible to make Zambia permanently cholera-free.

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