Saturday, May 10, 2008

Zesco power disruptions are harmful - Levy

Zesco power disruptions are harmful - Levy
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday May 10, 2008 [04:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa yesterday described the unplanned power disruptions by Zesco Ltd as harmful, damaging and inconveniencing to people. And President Mwan-awasa directed Secretary to the Cabinet Joshua Kanganja to seriously and ruthlessly deal with controlling officers that misappropriate money meant for the liquidation of utility bills for government institutions.

Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa said Zambians who would sublet to foreigners new market stands they will be empowered with in Lusaka’s New Soweto Market Complex would be imprisoned without an option for a fine.

Officiating at the launch of the Zambia Urban Water Supply Infrastructure Maintenance project in Lusaka’s Matero Constituency, President Mwanawasa directed Zesco managing director Rhodnie Sisala and his team to properly plan the current power load-shedding schedule. He said there was need to make the citizenry benefit from their payment of electricity tariffs by ensuring that the power load-shedding did not inconvenience them.

“These unplanned disruptions of electricity are causing harm, damage and inconvenience. Our people want a timetable that gives a schedule when they expect water to go and electricity to go and when it will be on. They want to know when they can cook their food,” President Mwanawasa said. “If these things are not planned, you will hear the people will be complaining.”

President Mwanawasa said he was hopeful that the problem of power load-shedding would be a thing of the past next year.

And responding to Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) chairman Justin Chisulo’s complaints over government departments’ failure to off-set water bills, President Mwanawasa said he was surprised that this problem continues recurring even when funds had been disbursed.

“One wouldn’t think that we do not budget for these things. Year in year out there is a budget for water and electricity; and controlling officer, what explanation can you give for not settling these bills?

If water is discontinued, you are going to inconvenience your institutions,” President Mwanawasa said. “And if it is rentals for your staff, your staff is going to be extremely demotivated. Secretary to the Cabinet, can you ensure that all controlling officers spend the money intended for these facilities? If they spend it on something else, it must be a misappropriation, which is punishable by imprisonment up to 15 years.”

President Mwanawasa also said people that failed to pay for their water and electricity bills were failing to meet their national obligations.

“And if the water is disconnected then you will say that ‘ichi chiparty cha Mwanawasa, nshachivote (this party for Mwanawasa, I will not vote for it),” President Mwanawasa said, asking: “Are we going to be blackmailed because of people who cannot leave up to their national obligations?”

President Mwanawasa said a vote based on such blackmail was not a good one.
“I want a caring vote. The kind of vote that I want is that which will assist me provide development to the people,” President Mwanawasa said.

He said the development of water and sanitation services in the entire country was critical following years of neglect.

“It is therefore a challenge for stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, local authorities and all those charged with planning and development control, to ensure that we change the way things are done for a better tomorrow,” President Mwanawasa said.

“If, for example, we are going to achieve gender equality and empower women, then we must make sure that water and decent sanitation facilities are provided which encourage the girl child to go to school, and grow up as a self-assured woman.”

President Mwanawasa, who thanked the various cooperating partners for the support they had provided to the Zambian government towards improving the sanitation and water situation, said interventions in the water and sanitation aspects would be costly.

He also said the request by Matero PF member of parliament Faustina Sinyangwe for the construction of a bigger health facility and secondary school in Matero, which has a population of about 100,000 people, was genuine.

President Mwanawasa said the construction of the secondary school in the area would be commenced in August this year following the conclusion of tender procedures.

He also asked cooperating partners to help in the construction of a bigger hospital in Matero, as this would be a faster and cheaper approach other than if it was solely left to the government to handle.

And Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Li Qiangmin said most of the developmental projects that the government was grappling with were close to his government’s heart.
The Zambia Urban Water Supply Infrastructure Maintenance Project has been jointly funded by the governments of China and Zambia.

During the launch of the project, Sinyangwe organised an inter-party choir to sing for the audience.

And Sinyangwe said the launch of the project was an indication that President Mwanawasa was a caring father who takes development to different parts of the country without discrimination.

Meanwhile, during an inspection of the New Soweto Market Complex being constructed by Millers Construction yesterday morning, President Mwanawasa said it did not make sense that whilst Zambians had been given priority at such markets, they had sadly opted to sublet stands to foreigners.

“We expect law and order to prevail,” President Mwanawasa said. “Zambians have been crying for this infrastructure of this nature, we give them.

We are going to have a police post at this market and we are going to make it an offence for any Zambian, who has been empowered to sell here, to sublet the market stalls to a foreigner.”

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