The slum city

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 11:39:38 +0000

LUSAKA is slowly turning into one gigantic filthy slum and unless our city fathers do something extraordinary, this historic city which has played host to some of the most awesome events in the economic and political life of Southern Africa, will literally disappear into nothingness.

Tourists and eminent visitors to Zambia cannot believe that Cairo Road is the main through fare of the once fastest growing capital of a new, rising economic giant in the sub-continent, popularly known then as the ‘‘green city’’.

The once immaculate rows of boutiques stocked with the latest from London, Paris and Milan have long since disappeared and replaced by salaula clothing, second hand shoes and fake imports of all shapes and sizes being sold in the corridors of Cairo Road – and displayed on the dirty floor. You can even buy finkubala in the door way just where the famous Royal Art Studio once stood.

It is unbelievable that a proud and ambitious nation such as ours can allow itself to sink to such depths of carelessness, impunity and lack of patriotism where street vendors – most of whom are foreigners posing as ruling party cadres – can swamp a city and render the civic authorities impotent. Lusaka has become the lost city of the 21st Century.

Lusaka today looks like a city that has survived a long, bitter civil war where the entire population was displaced and we have just returned to rebuild it and the restoration process has just begun. No wonder many experts believe the city will never be the same and we must start thinking of a site for a new capital which can be planned and built the way a modern metropolis should look.

The assertions by Lusaka mayor His Worship Wilson Kalumba that the problems of the city’s flooding are aggravated by Lusaka being situated on a flat plateau and a swamp are nothing but empty rhetoric and a lame excuse by a council administration too afraid to confront the real causes of the capital’s challenges.

Yes, we agree that Lusaka may have a low topography and high water table in certain areas, with the geology of the city being dominated by impermeable limestone which does not allow water to run off quickly or be absorbed into the ground so easily. But this alone is far from the reason why the city is perennially flooded and each time it rains the central business district turns into a lake and               Cairo into a river.

The reason why Lusaka floods is that it does not have a network of underground drainage system which allows rain water to disappear and transported via underground canals to a reservoir or lake where the water can be stored, purified and fed back into the city’s reticulation system to augment the supply from the Kafue water works.

Despite successive governments and donors pouring huge resources into the programme to improve the city’s drainage system, this particular budget item has become a bottomless pit because some council employees have found a way to make it work to their great advantage.

It is reported they can even deliberately block the Bombay drainage so that nearby compounds are flooded and Government and well-wishers rush to release more funding to alleviate the situation for fear of an outbreak of cholera or dysentery.

 In one fine example, a certain distinguished corporate citizen is working with the community of Kalale, an impoverished compound wedged between Kalikiliki and Ibex Hill in Lusaka, on an environmental pilot project to minimise litter that can block drains and give rise to flooding.  So far the people have collected 6.5 tonnes of garbage and are generating an income for themselves and alleviate their poverty.

Is it initiatives like this this that can transform Lusaka from a slum and a swamp into the green, sparkling town that it has always been.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button