I CAN lie if I talk about development in Luapula Province because I haven’t seen anything, says chief Chisunka of the Ushi people of Mansa district.
The traditional leader pleaded with the PF government to quickly construct feeder roads in the province or else “some places within Luapula Province will be impassable” in the imminent rain season.
Chief Chisunka, who is Luapula Province Chiefs’ Council secretary, complained also about the vagueness surrounding the construction of a public university in Mansa.
“I can lie if I talk about development in Luapula Province because I haven’t seen anything. But I have heard about the construction of Kashikishi-Lunchinda road, that is Nchelenge-Chienge road; I hear Sino Hydro is working on it. So that is truly welcome because there has been a lot of outcry about the state of that road. But broadly speaking, we have not yet seen any tangible infrastructural development in the province,” chief Chisunka said in an interview.
“So, I’m asking the government to quickly start constructing feeder roads in the province because once it’s rainy season, some places within Luapula Province will be impassable. Our plea is that, can this government look at us people in rural areas.”
On the impending construction of a university in the provincial capital, Mansa, chief Chisunka lamented: “We are still waiting up to now.”
“We are in the dark about that project, especially us chiefs. I’m speaking as the secretary for Luapula chiefs that we have been too expectant of Luapula University but to no avail. Can the government please update us about this issue. When are they building it? We have waited for it for far too long. Each time we meet with ministers and we try to engage them on this matter, they always assure us that it will be constructed soon. But there is nothing happening and we are demanding for an update on what’s going on. Maybe you (this reporter) have been informed about this project?” he complained.
And chief Chisunka pointed out that late payment of farmers in his chiefdom who sold maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was distressing.
On July 20, the FRA announced that it would buy a 50 kg bag of maize at K65.
But a day later, President Edgar Lungu, while addressing a rally at Mafuta Primary School in Eastern Province to drum up support for Chipangali district council by-election candidate Million Tembo, said the government was going to revisit the because K65 announced by the FRA was not a fair floor price.
The amount for a 50 kg was then increased to K70.
“The FRA bought maize from our farmers here but they haven’t paid them. So, what I’m telling the government is that farmers are complaining about late payments for their maize. It’s almost two months now from the time the maize was ‘bought’ but it seems they (the government) don’t want to give them their money. People usually sell maize to the FRA to raise money for their children’s school fees and schools have now opened for the third term. But farmers aren’t being paid,” explained Chisunka.
“If anything, it rained here in Luapula, yet farmers have no farming inputs. How can they prepare for the farming season when they don’t have money? So what I’m saying is that the government hasn’t obviously paid attention to agriculture. Some farmers keep on coming to me, telling me to present their hardships to the authorities. But when I call the authorities [at the FRA,] their response is ‘we don’t know what’s going.’ Just imagine!”