ALVIN CHIINGA, Kalomo
IT WAS the first administrative centre for North-Western Rhodesia. To prove this, some old colonial structures still stand up to date.
Among them is the district administrators’ (DA) house and other memorial sites which have been declared as national monuments.
The remnants of the first parliament for the colonial government which acted as a council and the pioneer cemetery for the British South Africa Company are also still in existence.
Also near the DA’s house is the site where the first Standard Chartered Bank for Rhodesia was. Experts still cannot tell whether natives were using the bank.
This is Kalomo, situated about 60 kilometres south of the provincial headquarters Choma and 120 km south of Zambia’s tourist capital, Livingstone. Despite the rich history, the town has over the years been reeling in poverty.
Successive governments have come and gone but the story of the first ‘capital city’ never seems to change for the better.
In the midst of this quagmire, the current Government realised that Kalomo needs to be lifted from the myriad problems it has been facing over the years.
A multi-sectoral approach in terms of development has been planned mainly to ensure that some of the problems, especially in the health, agriculture, education and road sectors, are addressed.
In the health sector, the construction of Kalomo District Hospital is underway. The first phase has been completed at a cost of over K11 million and it includes the construction of an administration block, out-patient department (OPD) and laboratories.
This is because the current hospital has been under pressure from the ever-growing demand of quality health services such as specialised treatment.
District Commissioner Cosmas Chiiba says this will be possible once the construction of the second phase is completed by the end of this year.
“We are moving according to schedule though there have been some challenges here and there, but by and large the hospital will be completed soon,” he said in an interview recently.
The people of Kalomo, who have been experiencing challenges in accessing health care because of the poor state in which the current hospital is, can attest to the importance of a good hospital.
According to some residents talked to, the old hospital cannot meet the current health needs because of the population increase.
The hospital does not have a theatre, compelling medical personnel to refer serious and complicated cases to hospitals in nearby Zimba, Livingstone and Choma.
For the new hospital, two contractors, Golden Horse and Conquest have been hired to build an ultra-modern health structure, which will be the first of its kind in the area at an estimated cost of K32,828,034.
Golden Horse Contractors are doing phase two of which includes construction of a maternity wing, theatre, wards, four staff houses and mortuary at a cost of K21,752, 100, while Conquest Contractors has already finished the first phase.
Brenda Hachamba, who stays near the hospital, says she cannot wait to have the health facility commissioned.
“We have had several problems being referred to Zimba Mission Hospital every time we have health complications, but this hospital will help us,” she said with a lot of optimism.
She is just one of the hundreds of the people that this hospital will benefit once it is fully operational.
Apart from the Kalomo District Hospital under construction in the district, Mr Chiiba said that Habulile Hospital in Chief Chikanta is also earmarked for upgrading.
He said the people of Dundumwezi in Kalomo where the hospital is located have since thanked President Edgar Lungu for providing an ambulance and a mothers’ shelter to the hospital recently.
As Kalomo is predominantly a farming district, the installation of solar-powered milling plants under the Presidential Initiative has also brought a lot of excitement and installations have gained momentum.
A total of 97 solar milling plants sites have been allocated to the district out of the 2,000 earmarked for installation countrywide under the initiative.
Out of the 97 site allocations, 84 have been approved and so far the contractor engaged in building the milling plants has put up 65 slabs, while 48 milling structures have been put up and 25 milling plants are operational.
Training of personnel to operate the solar milling plants has somehow been a challenge in having the Presidential Initiative quickly executed in Kalomo.
Mr Chiiba said that apart from the solar-powered milling plants, which are now under construction, people in the district are being empowered through the Pilot Programme for Climate Change (PPCC) resilience through the bee-keeping and goat-rearing projects.
He said the e-voucher programme, which has had its own teething problems, is promising in the district if the excitement of the beneficiaries in the 2017/18 farming is anything to go by.
In the education sector, Kalomo is seemingly moving in the right direction especially that several schools are being upgraded from basic to high schools, much to the delight of learners.
In the past most learners in the district used to cover long distances to get secondary education, but with the upgrading of schools, things will not be the same.
“In the district, last year, two schools were upgraded from basic to secondary schools. Siachitema and Choonga basic schools are now high schools,” Mr Chiiba said.
He said more schools in the district have been earmarked for upgrading to ensure that many pupils are able to attain high school education near their homes.
Another milestone that the district has scored is the construction of Kalomo-Dundumwezi-Itezhi Tezhi-Namwala road.
It is envisaged that once completed, this road under the PPCR will be a cornerstone as far as climate change resilience is concerned.
The road will not only help in employment creation during its construction, but will also ease transportation between Kalomo, Dundumwezi, Ngoma, Namwala and Itezhi-Tezhi.
The road project will also help in boosting the tourism industry in the Kafue National Park and providing a conducive environment for expansion of local activities and marketing of agricultural products.
Mr Chiiba said the road project, which was commissioned by President Lungu, will change the face of Kalomo.
Perhaps, after the completion of all the projects that are currently underway, Kalomo will attain municipality status and eventually regain its lost glory.