By JOHN SAKALA
As Zambia attains 56 years of Independence, Mulonga Water Supply and Sanitation Company Limited (MWSC) looks back through the pinhole camera of hurdles, yet celebrates the commencement of rehabilitation works.
The major hurdle at MWSC has been dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure which equally has been outsmarted by the growing population and demand.
With the signing of works contracts worth €23 million by the company, government wants the water utility to expeditiously execute the projects.
Through government, MWSC has been funded by the European Investment Bank, European Union, French Development Agency and Zambian Government to a tune of €156 million of which €23 million is already being utilized to improve and extend service provision.
Minister of Water Development Sanitation and Environment Protection Jonas Chanda has implored the company to implement all water and sanitation projects within stipulated time to ensure the people benefit from improved service delivery.
Dr. Chanda said government has been aware of the challenges some utilities are facing but said MWSC has received the money and needs to execute to the expectations of the people.
His desire is that MWSC offers services to all people in the areas of operation which are Chingola, Mufulira and Chililabombwe.
And in response, the company will build 436 standard Ventilation Improved Toilets (VIP) Pit Latrines in areas that are not services by sanitation network.
At the same time, the utility firm will sink boreholes to areas not serviced by water network in several Peri-Urban Areas.
The cost for VIP Pit Latrines has been pegged at US $1, 190, 094. 89, meaning the latrines will be built at no cost to the customer but the company intends to demonstrate and show the customer how a VIP pit latrine must be built as a corporate social responsibility
According to MWSC Managing Director Reuben Kaira, Chingola will benefit from 152 VIP latrines which will be constructed as follows; 10 in Mushishima , another 10 will built at Chigayo, while 30 will be constructed at Kasompe, 10 at Musenga while Bupalo and Soweto will share the 32, with Kapisha getting the largest allocation of 60 VIP pit latrines.
In Chililabombwe 117 will be constructed in total broken down as follows; 25 for Kawama 14 in PPZ Konkola, 20 in Kasumbalesa, 50 in Lubengele and eight in Kakoso B.
For Mufulira 167 latrines will be built. Mokambo will get 20, Murindu 30, Minambe 15, Zimba 25, Kawama East and West will get 30 respectively while Old Kansunswa gets 17.
Mr Kaira said the areas that benefit from VIP pit latrines will also benefit from the peri-urban water project which is aimed at improving access to safe water.
He said for a long time there has not been major improvement of infrastructure in peri urban areas but the peri urban project will be a game changer.
Areas like Musenga in Chingola, Mokambo in Mufulira and Kawama in Chililabombwe will be provided with borehole water.
His desire is that the project should improve lives of people as they will have access to clean water and sanitation which is a precursor for good health.
“We aim to increase our footprints in peri urban areas thereby accelerating the attainment of Seventh National Developmental Plan (7SNDP),” he said.
Under the Zambia Water and Sanitation Project (ZWSP), the company targets four categories namely; Priority Investment Programs/Early works (PIP), Main Works, Business Improvement and Peri Urban.
While under the Priority Investment Programme (PIP), the utility firm will focus on areas in need of urgent rehabilitation works due to age old problems like Twatasha in Chingola, Mupambe in Mufulira and Kakoso B in Chililabombwe.
The main works, is where the firm will expand and build water treatment plants to ensure sufficient water reaches its clients. Here old infrastructure will be upgraded and replaced.
While under business improvement, the company wants to focus on its customer services to ensure that the MWSC eternal inefficiencies do not affect the customers’ access to acceptable services levels.
The good news is that the contractors under the PIP are already on site.
Mr Kaira implored the residents in the three Towns to work together with Mulonga Water as the projects aim to improve service delivery and more importantly, give the customer the best service.
“We are improving the service delivery and we expect the customer to reciprocate by paying their bills. Customers should also take advantage of flexible payment system. Everyone knows that the payment culture of the customer has a direct bearing on the level of service the utility firm provides,” he said.
The MD was quick to apologise that during the time of construction works, customers will be inconvenienced due to a excavations which in some areas will involve closing of roads.
“We appeal to customers to be patient and understanding during the constructions works and in case of arising conflict, they should visit MWSC offices to resolve matters amicably.
“Ultimately, our communication lines will remain open to avoid miscommunication and unnecessary delays in the implementation of the projects” he said.
And a Chililabombwe customer Chileshe Mwaba of Mine Township has welcomed the move of enhanced infrastructure.
Mr Mwaba said better infrastructure will improve quality and quantity supply.
He said the population has increased and it is imperative that the networks are expanded to meet the growing demand.
“I’m happy sanitation network in ‘W’ section of Lubengele is being worked on. This area has been problematic for a long, we commend the company for the initiative” he said.