THE Chipata City Council says it is still facing a challenge of inadequate staffing levels in critical positions despite being conferred city status. The city council has an establishment of 460 members of staff but it currently has slightly below 200. Despite being upgraded, the local authority’s allocation of the equalization fund has not yet been upgraded to city status level.
This came to light when the parliamentary committee on Delegated Legislation chaired by Nchelenge member of parliament Anthony Malama visited the council
on Friday. In a report presented to the committee, acting town clerk Yasini Mulimba said there was a higher expectation for service delivery from
the local authority.
“Generally, as a city council, there is now a higher expectation from members of the public for prompt and effective service delivery which can and is attainable but there is need for the requisite number of personnel as required in the approved structure to fill the vacant positions,” Mulimba said.
He said other challenges that came with the conferment of city status were increased pressure on acquiring land for expansion of service such as industrial, commercial and social services like burial sites and waste disposal. Mulimba said there was rapid increase in the sizes of unplanned settlements, mismatch between the rate of the process of squatter upgrading and the rate at which the settlements were increasing.
He said other challenges were increased rural urban migration and encroachments among developers.
“Despite the challenges indicated above and inadequate staffing levels, the proclamation of Chipata Municipal Council as City Council thus entailing the establishment of various departments has given additional strategies and improved planning decisions because of additional departments,” Mulimba said.
He said the local authority was designated as a planning authority which could regulate, control and plan for the development and use of land and buildings within the city.
“However…there are challenges such as low levels of compliance towards planning procedures to develop, change land use and others such as consolidations and subdivisions of plots. Resistance from members of the public to follow procedure, the aforesaid opt making complaints to traditional authorities as opposed
to complying with law in cases where they are advised that they have built on land which is not ideal for human habitation,” said Mulimba.
After the council presented a six paged report, the parliamentarians asked various questions which were answered by a panel of council
directors led by the acting town clerk.