Improve service delivery in tourism

If you were to recommend nice beaches in Southern Africa, what comes to one’s mind is Lake Malawi, Dar es salaam, Durban and Mauritius. These are the hotspots for beach relaxing in this part of Africa.

People go on holiday to come and relax here in Malawi by Salima or Monkey Bay on the shores of the lake. The place indeed is nice because of the infrastructure by Sunbird Hotels. In 2009 when I worked in Luapula Province, I noticed that the area has got two nice beaches at Lakes Bangweulu and Mweru. The spots were not so popular because of lack of infrastructure or poor infrastructure at the two beaches then. I had always wondered why people from that region never dared to invest in exploring that enormous potential that lay untapped. What baffled me was that a couple of names from that region held influential positions in government and leadership (it’s not a secret that ministers have access to resources in Zambia). Sad enough, some of them were cited to have amassed huge sums of money during the reign of one ‘great’ leader and this has continued to date. At the time, the only lodge which was there was owned by one politician besides the council lodge. That was all they could show off.

However, last month I decided to take a tour of duty and try to see whether anything has happened there. I was so impressed with what is happening; the people of that province have woken up from slumber and realised that Luapula will be developed by Zambians and not the Chinese. The whole front from Danny Pule’s Lodge stretching about five kilometres have got projects going on with Chita Lodge having been completed with funding from Development Bank of Zambia.

As a person who has the passion to see Zambia and Zambians succeed, I took stock of every plot that is there. I was so impressed to learn that almost all projects, except one for Katumbi of Congo DR, are owned by Zambians and many of them residing or coming from that province. Chita Lodge has over thirty rooms well built with that natural touch overlooking the waters of the lake. In the night, I could hear and smell the fresh water talking to me and all the stress that I had from Lusaka was gone. The quality of the rooms is far better than what I experienced from Lake Malawi.  Just the elevation of where the lodge is gives it that nice view, making you experience that buga (nice)  life we all anticipate leading. I should give some thumbs up to chief Mibenge for opening up his area for development unlike what we hear from other chiefs. The local member of parliament should be recognised because the roads have well been paved in Samfya as compared to towns like Mkushi which has yet to have a single road completed. The town has now got a functioning filling station at Musaila which again has been put up with the funding from DBZ. This investment belongs to a local civil servant and not foreigners as is the case in Lusaka.

However, I would like to urge our local investors that are putting up such great investment to consider employing qualified staff. I have said so because I was so disappointed with the services that we were subjected to in Mansa. We checked in one of the best lodges and the time was a few minutes after noon. We quickly rushed to our rooms to freshen up after having given orders for our lunch. We wanted to touch base with the head of agriculture in the province to understand some investments that are being implemented in the agribusiness sector. The rooms we were ushered into had partially been cleaned. The wash rooms were still dirty. We waited for our lunch for two and half hours until we gave up and decided to go and see the PACO. Just before we went into our vehicle, that is when we saw this Chef running to us informing us that the meal was finally ready. The man did not even have the courtesy to come and inform us why the meal had delayed. I think it does not take so much to employ qualified staff in strategic positions because these are the people that are daily interacting with customers. You honestly can’t put up such an important investment and decide to employ a grade nine from Senama to serve guests. It is even worthwhile to send a few employees to college if you can’t attract already qualified staff. Nonetheless, I am so impressed with the level of investments being put up in Luapula though I never went further than Mansa. Next time I am in that province, I will try to go further west to Nchelenge, Chienge, Kaputa and Nsumbu. We need to develop the northern circuit for tourism.

This brings me back to Central Province. Mkushi is the largest commercial farming block we have in the country and all agricultural related companies always want to visit this area. Mkushi has more money than Kabwe or Mazabuka but the level of investments by the locals has much to be desired. There are only about two lodges worth to stay in though the service is also questionable. I remember sleeping in a room whose water pipes were dangling like lines for hanging clothes. The water that was coming out of the taps looked like blood. The town has no single tarmac road yet you hear of great farmers in that town. Come on central, we can do much better. Is it that you need to hold an Expo? Please let us improve the service delivery in tourism.

Hey, did you hear that FRA pegged the price of maize at K65, and now increased to K70 by President Edgar Lungu? I must be mad to sell to them!  Anyway, let’s discuss commodity prices next week.

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