Editor's Comment

Corporates must do better

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin said, “We need business to understand its social responsibility, that the main task and objective for a business is not to generate extra income and to become rich and transfer the money abroad, but to look and evaluate what a businessman has done for the country, for the people, on whose account he or she has become so rich.”True to Mr Putin’s words, businesses, wherever they operate from, should not only preoccupy themselves with making profits but should endeavour to be good corporate citizen, too.
In modern business, it is an ethical obligation for firms to go beyond the law’s requirements in protecting the environment and contributing to social welfare.
Firms need to be concerned with protecting the interests of all stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities in which their businesses operate.
Against this background, it is disappointing that Chiwala Road, which leads to the industrial hub of Ndola, is in a deplorable state.
This is what led to protests by Ndeke township residents who blocked the 7km road recently to press Government to work on it.
Residents are concerned that heavy-duty trucks constantly use the road and raise plumes of dust posing a health hazard.
“The dust is too much and is affecting our children. They are coughing, their eyes are affected and you just cannot keep your house clean because of the dust,” said one of the residents, Hope Kowa.
“The major contributors to the dust are trucks driving to and from the industries, and please we ask if Government can just work on this road.”
For crying out loud, this is the road which leads to big and notable firms such as Dangote Cement Limited, Lime and Quarry, Lafarge Zambia, Ndola Lime Company and Zambezi Portland Cement.
And all these companies seem to be waiting for Government’s intervention in facilitating a smooth passage to their businesses.
While it is acknowledged that development of such infrastructure is a responsibility of Government, it should also be noted that public resources are limited and can only achieve so much.
Government has got so many needs, all competing for the same resources.
Chiwala Road is just one of the numerous needs beckoning Government’s attention.
That being the case, we expect companies that operate in the area and use this road to adopt it as a corporate social responsibility project.
That is what good corporate citizenship is all about.
For companies deriving huge benefits from the environment, it is expected that they plough back into the communities they operate from.
All the companies operating at the Ndola industrial hub have reason to show concern because apart from being part of the problem through environmental degradation, they also suffer the consequences.
For instance, it is the trucks owned by these firms that are worsening the state of the road.
Due to the fine plumes of dust raised by trucks, some of their employees could be affected through infections, thereby affecting their productivity.
If these companies can team up to tar this road, they will certainly be saving on medical bills as well as tear and wear on their vehicles.
The efficiency of transporting goods to and from their companies will also be improved.
All companies operating in the industrial hub of Ndola will do well to mobilise themselves and work on Chiwala Road for the good of the communities they operate from and themselves.
It is said that they had in fact started meeting to actualise this thought, but for some reason they have shelved the plan.
They better get back together, be thorough in their plans and most importantly get the road significantly improved.
Aggrieved residents should continue to bring to the fore their concerns so that appropriate decisions and actions are made. They should, however, avoid actions that could bring them into conflict with the law.
Blocking roads illegally does draw attention to those concerned but it also endangers the lives of the road users and could trigger a backlash from law enforcers. They should use appropriate channels of tabling their concerns, which should eventually get the desired attention.
Zambia needs good corporate citizens who will not only be interested in making profits but partner with Government to improve the welfare of communities they operate from.

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