By SHERRY CHABALA
THE Lusaka Central Business District (CBD) had been converted into a haven of criminal activities such as drug abuse and trafficking as a result of increased street vending that had been abated for decades, Parliament heard yesterday.
Garry Nkombo, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development told Parliament yesterday, that illegal street vending in Lusaka had not only become a health hazard but a security risk as the streets had become unsafe for citizens.
Delivering a Ministerial statement on the government’s effort to remove traders to designated trading places, Mr Nkombo vowed that as long as he was going to remain the minister in-charge of Local Government, illegal street vending would not be tolerated.
Mr Nkombo said consumers of illicit substances did not only desensitise the plight of other citizens but were also inebriated continuously with most degenerating into a state of junkies who disrupted the peace of citizens.
“People started feeling unsafe because these consumers of illicit substances and illegal alcohol not only desensitise the plight of other citizens but they also became inebriated continuously and most of them have moved into a state of junkies who disturbed the peace of citizens.”
Madam Speaker, crime ranging from petty pick pocketing to knifing and they kept the Zambia police busy over this period. Children who are juveniles have become delinquent…they drink endlessly, they become high, they blackout, they wake up and now their docility that has what has become their normal life” Mr Nkombo said.
Mr Nkombo said the problem of street vending had reached its record high during the time of the previous government.
“I should be excused because am not passing blame to anyone but stating things as they are, because in the previous government, they started allocating land in the central business district and road reserves, erecting clutters which they described as temporary development became order of the day,” Mr Nkombo said.
And Mr Nkombo has announced that the crusade against street vending which saw thousands of Lusaka street vendors removed will be rolled to all the other provinces.
Mr Nkombo who yesterday undertook an on-the-spot check tour of the CBD said that the removal of vendors from streets would roll out to other provinces.
Mr Nkombo has become a hero and a darling of many for having courageously taken the decision to remove illegal street vendors from the streets of Lusaka, a feat many before him had failed to achieve.
The Lusaka CBD had been an eyesore for decades with mountain of garbage while most of the illegal trading places were also open taverns and restaurants.
But Mr Nkombo had to hold the bull by its horns and moved to ensure the vendors were gotten rid from the streets and corridors to bring sanity to the city centre.