Slow pace of development angers residents

Home Featured Slow pace of development angers residents

MUYAKO – There is simmering discontent by residents of Muyako settlement in Katima Rural who are lamenting the slow pace of development.

Foremost among their concerns is the dilapidated clinic which was scheduled to be renovated but such work has been put on hold for more than a year due to alleged poor worksmanship and suspected tender irregularities.

To aggravate matters, the clinic has no accommodation for its sole nurse who has to travel a long distance to and from work every day and because of that the clinic is often closed leaving scores of patients unattended.

The only nurse at the clinic is said to be commuting every day from Bukalo, about 20 kilometres away. When this reporter arrived at the clinic, it was closed and people in the area seemed to have accepted this as the norm.

Muyako is located about 70 kilometres east of Katima Mulilo in Katima Rural Constituency and is known to be rich in agricultural and fishery resources due to the inland Lake Liambezi.

It has a population of just over 2 000 people.

Chairperson of a development initiative in the area known as Zankonda Development Fund, Chrispin Matongela, complained the halting of renovations negatively affects the community.

“The clinic was supposed to be upgraded to a health centre by now. The nurse stays at Bukalo and we are told she only comes about two or three times to the clinic. For people to get treatment they have to travel to places such as Bukalo or Ibbu which is quite a distance and some people cannot afford it. This is very unfair, while we have our own clinic,” cried Matongela.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Ngwende Tongo, an elderly resident of Muyako who further bemoaned the lack of other services in the area.

“We are suffering. The clinic has been like that for a long time. We have no proper water services and no electricity like other areas. Our roads are also bad despite the fact that Muyako provides the most fish in this region,” complained Tongo.

Stalen Sikombwa and Lyonga Cosmas who both worked on the clinic as builders recently said  the foreman who came in June this year to recruit them barely spent a month in the area before he was never heard from again.

“A foreman came here looking for workers in June. We started working on the clinic that time for less than a month and then he left and told us he will come back but never did. We were not even paid for our work and we can’t locate this person,” said the two men.

Another concern in the area has been the erection of pit latrines in the area which also like the former seem to have been abandoned. Matongela noted that the foundation for the pit latrines were dug for each village but have been left open posing a dangerouse threat to children in the area particularly in the rainy season.

“They dug pit latrines and left the holes open in each village from early this year. Nothing has happened so far for more than four months and information we are getting is that the owner of the company that got the tender committed suicide. When it starts to rain children might be at risk of drowning. The community wants an answer but the regional council is saying nothing,” lamented Matongela.

A well-placed source, however, noted the project in question falls under the directorate of rural water supply. He further added pit latrines in Muyako was a pilot project and that indeed the owner of the company responsible for the project had passed on and that has resulted in work being halted. A source further noted that work on the project would resume soon as the process on sourcing labour is at an advanced stage.

Matongela listed a myriad of concerns in the area regarding the stagnation of development including the lack of water, electricity and poor roads accusing the authorities of turning a blind eye.

“Rural water supply is also a big challenge. Our road is bad despite the fact that Muyako supplies gravel even to other roads that are being built. Our resource is being used at our own expense. The councillor should be able to intervene in these type of issues,” Matongela told New Era.

Early this year residents of Muyako threatened to stage a protest following the sudden absence of the nurse at the clinic.

The protest action prompted the Minister of health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi to visit the clinic to listen to their grievances.

During that time, Kamwi assured the community that the ministry was already in the process of renovating the existing structures through its contingency fund as an interim measure while waiting for financial resources to erect permanent structures.

It also came to light that delays for the renovations emanated from tender irregularities after the procedures for awarding the tender were not properly followed.

A new contractor was supposed to have completed the work in three months’ time.

Kamwi was said to be outside the country and several attempts to reach both the Ministry’s public relations officer and the Zambezi regional health directorate proved futile as their phones went unanswered.

However, sources within the ministry said the issue was referred to the permanent secretary.