Editor's Comment

That’s the way to provide services

SERVICE provision is at the core of every government. Often, a government’s performance is measured by the level of services it provides or facilitates.
The current government, like previous ones, is thus under scrutiny on this Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
The Patriotic Front (PF) administration is being measured by what it plans to do and what it is doing, and this performance is compared with what previous Government’s have done.
Government’s ‘Walk the Talk’ philosophy is woven around taking services as close to the people as possible.
This is evidenced through the creation of several districts in the rural areas of the country to enhance service provision to citizens.
Citizens in outlying areas were covering long distances to obtain national registration cards, access agricultural extension officers, medical services and reporting thefts to the police.
Most schools were (or are) also very far and this contributed to high levels of illiteracy among young people.
The creation of new districts is also helping curb the rural-urban drift as services are getting closer to the people’s door steps.
As services get closer to the people, opportunities for employment open up as some of the spin-off benefits.
In urban districts, Government has started decentralising the provision of services to the people by building mini civic centres and fire stations.
This is expected to improve provision of basic services to citizens at community level.
The impending construction of mini civic centres and fire sub stations is therefore a welcome innovation on the part of Government.
Lusaka has grown fast over the past decade.
It has grown in population, infrastructure as well as the number of vehicles on the road.
This makes it travelling to the civic centre not only cumbersome but expensive as well.
Citizens do not get the required service timeously because council workers attend to thousands of people daily.
It is the reason the Lusaka City Council (LCC), for instance, struggles to receive its dues in terms of land rates.
This is despite LCC encouraging residents to pay for some of the services via digital platforms.
Not all Lusaka residents are familiar or comfortable in using the digital platforms but would rather pay through the cashier.
In fact, handling too many clients by LCC has also contributed to bureaucracy. This entails that certain approvals cannot be obtained on time.
For instance, for people who intend to build, they have to submit the drawings to the civic centre for analysis by the building inspectors.
Ordinarily, the inspectors are among other duties expected to visit the sites where construction is to be done to advise the developers how to go about the building after analysing the terrain as well as proof on ownership.
But the shortage of manpower and the size of Lusaka mean that the officers are overwhelmed and end up approving the plans from the comfort of their offices.
This has also led to some people building without the approval of the local authority.
Therefore, the construction of civic centre is a welcome innovation by Government.
Also welcome is the decentralisation of fire stations as this will ensure that people in Lusaka are effectively serviced.
It will certainly eliminate the red tape and days of the long processes residents having been going through before being attended to, are coming to an end.
The city’s fire attendants will no longer grapple with numerous challenges in dealing with emergency-related incidents associated with the centralisation.
Days of fire attendants driving through congested roads from the central fire station to accident scenes will be a thing of the past with the establishment of fire sub stations at community level.
Communities will feel safer because fire attendants will be operating within their neighbourhoods.
Fire attendants and civic authorities will also have enough time to be interacting with residents in the areas they will be operating from.
That is how you deliver services.

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