Analysis: LOUIS MWAPE
ONE would describe President Edgar Lungu’s keenly anticipated three-day visit to Kabwe last week, as a Super Bowl weekend in the sense that it drew more than media attention.
The trip attracted scores of on-lookers, civil and political leadership just like any other presidential visit, but what was more unique about it is that it captured Kabwe both at its best and worst.
To grasp why, let us quickly consider the developments that unfolded during that trip; While in Kabwe, the President commissioned 104 Specialised Officer cadets at the Military Training Establishment of Zambia (MILTEZ).
He also took part in the early morning jogging exercise and the Keep Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy Campaign, which is among his flagship programmes. On the other hand, he came at a time when there were issues of civil unrest at Kabwe Municipal Council and he also decried the repeated land encroachment issues later in the day.
Whatever else the President’s visit to Kabwe may mean, there is one preliminary logical conclusion; he demonstrated inspired leadership and his usual zeal to ensure that things are done on one end of the spectrum. He was right on cue and it was apparent that at some point, he was not too pleased and several issues left him unsettled.
For instance, the President refused to move an inch until a nagging sewer blockage that was posing a bane in Kabwe’s Central Business District, behind Kabwe’s biggest supermarket -Shoprite was unblocked.
For Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company Limited (LgWSC), a commercial utility charged with the responsibility by the central government, to supply water and sanitation services to the people of Central Province, the pledge to the customers it serves is that it will continue working with the Ministry of Water and other cooperating partners, to continuously improve its strategies on how best it can increase its service provision without disruptions, in line with the national Vision 2030.
As the old saying goes, the best step towards solving any problem is recognising that there is one. LgWSC has recognised that there is one indeed and in that spirit, the fact that the Head of State denounced what he termed as a culture of “non-performance” may well be seen as a wakeup call, not only to LgWSC but the many other stakeholders.
Any culture that hampers service delivery demands urgent and dramatic change and today LgWSC has to wrestle with that vital question; what has been done to move forward and are there efforts to ensure that some unpleasant things do not happen again? Are people deployed in the field going to be on high alert and take responsibility?
According to the statement released by LgWSC board chairperson, David Nkhata, LgWSC regrets the incident and it has further instituted an audit to the incident reporting and monitoring systems to ensure that the company is efficient and provides credible services to the people it serves.
That line has been prone to frequent blockages due to several factors, among them a combination of high volumes above its original design, high fat content that seeps in and occasionally foreign objects along various points before the waste water reaches the waste treatment plant. That contributes to the build-up and blocking.
It has also been established that there is need to construct adequate fat traps to ensure that such blockages do not recur.
As part of long term plans, LgWSC targets to spend an estimated total of K3 million to upgrade the sewer network line, rehabilitate manholes and replace old sewer pumps at its three key pump stations in order to improve reliability of sewer system connecting Shoprite and other parts of the central business district.
Besides technical applications, some social engineering has to be applied too. The commercial utility and other stakeholders will also have to speedily intensify efforts in behavioural change communication campaigns. The people ought to be aware of the dangers of indiscriminate disposal of solid wastes.
The commercial utility is further intensifying its routine maintenance and inspection works so as to remain on high alert and provide a better service to the people of Central Province. LgWSC therefore has heed the President’s call and it will remain committed to providing good water and Sanitation services to the people of Kabwe and Central Province as a whole.
With new innovations that LgWSC has deviced, a sophisticated mapping and monitoring system that ensures that all digitalised networks are highly monitored, for possible disruptions. LgWSC remains optimistic that service provision will get even better in the near future.
The author is communications officer at Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company Limited.
Analysis: LOUIS MWAPE