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What causes flooding in Lusaka?

Analysis: FELIX TEMBO
IN THE last four years, the southern African region has been hit by power deficit.

This is a region which mostly depends on hydropower generation, save for South Africa that uses thermal as well. The worst hit countries to date are Zambia and Malawi.
Energy is very important for industrial development of any economy. For countries like Zambia, that want to develop their industries such as agriculture, energy is a commodity which is not negotiable.
As a matter of fact, for every investment which is put up in the country, Zesco should ensure that power generation capacity is increased. For instance, there are investments happening in sugar production in Milenge and Kawambwa.
For that, Zesco should ensure that the capacity of the power generation plant in Mwense on the Luapula River increases by at least 10 percent of the current capacity. They do not need to wait until the country gets into a crisis situation for them to go and knock on the doors of the Chinese to aid them to increase their capacity. They have to be proactive. Anyway, the question we have been asked is what causes perennial flooding in Lusaka every time it is the rainy season.
For those that have lived in Lusaka for a long time, they will agree with me that the town never used to be as flooded as the case now. Generally, Lusaka lies on a rocky subsurface which is both dolomitic and calcite. The town has a lot of rock outgrowths in many areas.
In compounds like Kanyama, John Laing and many others, it is very difficult to drive with a small car, especially in gravel or dusty roads because of the rocks.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s when the province received more than normal rains, the areas that were mostly flooded are Kanyama and Makeni because of their terrain. However, this is no longer the case now. One of the biggest challenges we have in this lovely city of Lusaka is lack of proper planning in that most of the compounds were unplanned for.
Some of the buildings and houses have been built in channels which used to drain water out of the central business district (CBD). Additionally, we do not have a lot of drainages that channel water out of the CBD and the biggest one that we have is Bombay subsurface drainage. This was built years ago when the population of the city was under a million people. We must be over two million people in Lusaka now, if not three, if we include street kids.
All these factors contribute to flooding. However, of late, we have observed a development which is being paid a blind eye by the city planners. The unregulated street vending is becoming an eye sore in Lusaka. There is no space left for window shopping or parking of vehicles in Lusaka; all spaces have become of commercial use.
We all know that jobs are a ‘dogs’ horn in Zambia but even then, we need to regulate how we vend and on which roads to vend on. You cannot walk from north-end to south-end without bumping into someone’s stand or heap of tomatoes.
What is most unfortunate is that these people do not dare take with them or dump the dirty that they generate in the right place. Many of these waste products of vending have ended up finding themselves in drainages causing massive blockages.
If the city receives as little as 10mm of rains, the whole CBD will become a lake. What is most unfortunate is that we seem not to appreciate the importance of drainages.
For instance, I was so perplexed the other day when I was walking along Kasangula Road from the junction with Great North Road towards Roma. I found heaps and sacks of refuse probably dumped in the drainage by the community along that road. That is already a recipe for disaster because it will impede the smooth flow of water.
That blockage has the capacity to destroy the drainage and the next thing the people will be demanding is for the council to go and unblock the drainage. We always admire Johannesburg but not knowing that it is the people that have decided to keep it clean; no Chinese will come and clean our mess.
Additionally, we have a very backward habit of throwing litter anyhow. Honestly, even Blantyre, which is a small city compared to Lusaka, is cleaner than our town yet there are more people in Blantyre than we have in Lusaka.
What we don’t seem to appreciate is that even in the new ‘world’ that will be brought about by Jesus defeating the devil, the building and cleaning will be done by ourselves. No angel will come to build the Paradise for us, the earlier we start practicing being neat with our surroundings, the easier it will be for us to fit in that community.
It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a clean environment. Please, let’s build our Paradise Lusaka now by not throwing litter.
This author is an agribusiness practitioner.

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