A Clean Lusaka, what’s the backup plan?

Filed under: Special Comments |

By Hope Nyambe

In a move that was gallantly orchestrated by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the Zambian Army move into the heart of Lusaka City Centre, ridding it of decades of unplanned temporal structures located on any available space of the city centre. It is hard to believe that barely a fortnight ago, this was a city drowning in uncollected garbage, unplanned structures and clogged drainages. The results of their work is truly amazing as evidenced by the mural of photography on social media and other fora’s depicting a unrecognisable clean Lusaka City Centre. And yet it would be a folly to have all this adulation without any retrospective of what brought us here in the first place.

It is a known fact that the council is responsible for the management and proper functioning of towns and cities. This includes the responsibility of collecting household waste and transporting it to designated disposal sites. It is also the responsibility of the council to put in place taxation measures that will enable the council raise enough finances to set up departments that provide a wide range of public services. You don’t need a forensic audit to deduce that the Lusaka City Council, like many other councils across the country, has largely failed in its aforementioned responsibilities.

The malaise however does not end with the council. Zambians are generally not conscientious about public hygiene. Many people will indiscriminately dispose of waste, including solid matter in public places, drainages, even in front of their own residences or trading areas. Such behaviour has been going on for too long that it has become imbedded in our culture. People literally throw away trash without the afterthought of their actions. Isn’t ironic that we only think of hygiene and clean practices in the rainy season when we are hit with cholera, blocked drainages and poignant smell of outpouring sewers?

With that retrospection, it is imperative that when the army goes back to their barracks, there is a backup plan to maintain the status quo of a clean city and its general sanity. We have seen it before, a few months down the lane, vendors start creeping up slowly until the city is overwhelmed with them again. So what can be done?

Councils around the country in general need to methodically overhaul both their management structures and strategic plans. It is common knowledge that funding for most councils is heavily dependent on grants from the central government. Business rates, Council taxes, Fees and charges supplement these grants. It is this over dependency on government grants that has killed any sense of entrepreneurship in our councils. Managers in councils need to devise strategic policies that encourage councils to be run as viable ‘businesses’ with not only the responsibility of proving social amenities and services to the general public, but with the possibility of making a profit (self-sustainability). Profits that could allow the council to invest in other products and services.

The collection of taxes and penalties has to be stringently followed as well. There is no point of having a million bylaws that are broken with impunity by the citizenry and businesses that are aware that the council has no capacity to follow up unpaid taxes and Charges. Apart from laws, physical structures have to be improved. There has to be waste disposal bins in all public places like bus stations, railway stations, shopping malls, stadiums etc that are actually collected on a regular basis. There is need for construction of proper public toilets in all public areas, these also maintained regularly.

The above prescribed changes to the council would be in vain without change in the mind-set of the general public. The general public has to be aware of standard and acceptable hygiene practices and their importance to both their health and economy. Many people today disposal of their waste without any consideration to the consequences of their actions. Apart from the inherent dangers of disease and resultant illnesses brought about by dirty surroundings, there is a heavy economical toll on the country too. Loss of human resource and inflated health bills brought about by illnesses related with poor hygiene practises can easily amount to millions of Kwacha.

Therefore, there is need to have deliberate and sustained sensitisation programmes, whether it be in school curriculums or programming on various media platforms that teach the general public on the importance of hygiene. Stiff penalties that will act as deterrents do not only have to be in place, but also implemented. Clean and safe cities attract investment, tourism in addition to enhancing the beauty of the city. Have you noticed that generally, people will have a bath because they are going to the Shopping mall, most of which a well maintained and clean. A clean city can have the same effect.


About the Author

Hope Nyambe is a Corporate Communications Specialist for Stimulipr.


5 Responses to A Clean Lusaka, what’s the backup plan?

  1. I support what Nyambe has said. This cholera outbreak is a wakeup call. There is need for civic leaders to show leadership now and for ever. Please civic leaders, once this cleanup by soldiers is completed, there should be a permanent mechanism that ensures that the dirt we have experienced this far does not come back. Let the soldiers continue manning the streets for sometime after the current cleaning exercise so that street venders do not come back and mess up again. Or come up with any sustainable strategy that can work for ever.

    January 10, 2018 at 12:27 pm

  2. Everythng happens for a purpose so is the cholera outbreak. God help zambia amen!!!!!!

    January 10, 2018 at 4:05 pm

  3. No more street vending in the streets but designated markets and trading places .
    Just go to Botswana , or Namibia and you see that there is order in their CBD and other trading places.
    This street vending is the reason why most companies are moving out of the CBD to set up their offices in residential areas.
    So after the gallant defense forces return to the barracks, we hope the police will take over the patrolling and enforcing order in the CBD and elsewhere necessary.
    We hope this will also reduce those unnecessary and inconvenient ambush road blocks which are a daily affair.

    January 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm

  4. A very insightful piece of work. I hope measures will be taken to maintain the status quo.

    January 11, 2018 at 10:01 am

  5. Lets have plastic bins in min buses as well.Passengers are the most culprits. They throw garbage indiscriminay.

    January 12, 2018 at 8:01 am

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.