By Chambwa Moonga in Chadiza
HARRY Kalaba says it is shameful that the PF calls the Eastern Province, with its potholed roads like the Chipata-Chadiza stretch, its electoral bedroom.
Kalaba is opposition Democratic Party (DP) president.
He has wondered how, 55 years after Zambia’s independence, no bus services the Chipata-Chadiza route.
The 83-kilometre Chipata-Chadiza gravel road is gravely bumpy.
Commuters between the two towns rely on private vehicles and pay as much as K80, one way.
Last month, from November 14 to 17, President Edgar Lungu was in Eastern Province where he opened the Catholic Church-owned Lumezi School of Nursing in Lumezi district.
The President also visited Lundazi, Chasefu, Chadiza, Vubwi and Katete districts to acquaint himself with developmental projects.
Kalaba was travelling from Chipata to Chadiza on Sunday morning and his GX Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle slid into a furrow on the road.
It took combined efforts of pushing the vehicle out of the deep hole.
Asked to comment about his experience on the Chipata-Chadiza road, Kalaba described it as: “horrific.”
He complained about the “pathetic” state of the road.
“I’m surprised that 55 years after independence we can have a road like this. Honestly, this is not fair. The soils are very fertile here; the farmers are willing to cultivate but the Chipata – Chadiza road is very prohibitive, it’s very discouraging,” Kalaba said.
“Imagine, getting stuck with a GX on this road’s trenches which people have unfortunately have become accustomed to. People here deserve a lot of attention.”
He added that in order to make Eastern Province a food basket, “the way Dr Kaunda envisaged it to be, the way [Levy] Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda were to make this place a food basket,” the Chipata-Chadiza road ought to be constructed.
“We have to ensure that this road is done. I can assure you that for me and my colleagues in the DP, it’s our intention that if we are going to incentivise our farmers, we, first of all, need to do their roads,” Kalaba said.
“This road is a linkage, Chipata to Chadiza. How can we neglect people like this? And we are being told that this (in Eastern Province) is their bedroom! How can you have a bedroom like this? Very shameful! We can’t tolerate this. The drive on this road has been horrific.”
He stressed that driving on the Chipata-Chadiza road was a nightmare.
“Driving between Chipata and Chadiza should just take about 30 minutes but it’s now two hours,” complained Kalaba.
“Let the people of Eastern Province open their eyes; actions speak louder than words. The President (Lungu) has not been on this road. So, how will he know how bad the road is?”
Later, Kalaba joined hundreds of worshippers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Parish in Chadiza town.
Kalaba was accompanied in Chadiza by Eastern Province DP chairman Danton Njobvu, deputy national secretary Clement Kumalinga and Bridget Nkhoma, the member of the party’s national organ – the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Kalaba also drove on the Chadiza-Chiswa-Katete road, another eyesore of a stretch.