Friday, June 17, 2011

More Potemkin Projects

More Potemkin Projects
By Guy Scott
Tue 14 June 2011, 04:00 CAT

My article two weeks ago about Potemkin “villages” – hospitals with no staff, railroads with no trains etc. has prompted a very enthusiastic response from readers.

It has also touched a raw nerve in the MMD, judging by the number of leaders of phony church organisation and NGOs – hollow Potemkins themselves - who have been dragged onto ZNBC to tell us that a hospital without staff is still a hospital and reminding us that the Chipata-Mchingi railway did manage to transport the Presidents of both Malawi and Zambia across the common border.

Below are some extracts from readers’ emails, with names and niceties removed protect the writers and to make the best use of space.

Mr. A writes: “....about the recently commissioned projects on the Copperbelt, since I am based in Kitwe. One such is the Ndeke Village 'Hospital'. The 'hospital' has not yet been completed as in terms of construction. The other buildings around the 'hospital' are in pre-phase of their construction (no roofing, no plastering).

Moreover the 'hospital' has only got one nurse per shift. The other project is the Ichimpe Kalulushi Mine which has been commissioned despite the Environmental Council of Zambia having not approved the Environmental Impact Assessment yet.

I thought such projects should have waited for next year. Since each project has got its phases, each phase has to be completed before moving to another. We should have waited for all the phases to be completed, before the particular project is commissioned. As Mulongoti says "such projects could be catastrophic".

Mr. B exclaims: “Potemkin! I've spotted him too! The Isoka Muyombe tarmac road construction, the Mbesuma bridge & even the Great North Road repairs/ reconstruction. The one stop border facility at Nakonde remains incomplete.”

Mr. or Miss C notes: “In the run up to the Mporokoso by-elections, graders were moved in to repair the Kasama-Mporokoso road, and work actually started. But soon after the results were announced (you know how bad those results were for MMD!), only God knows were those graders have gone and when they are coming back.

Regards and DONT KUBEBA”

Says D: “I have seen Mr. Potemkin, I enjoyed your article on fake projects undertaken by our government. I will like to say that the all road projects and building projects undertaken by the Chinese contractor are all Potemkins. The quality of these contractors is poor. Chinese contractors have no traceable experience outside Zambia. There is rampant corruption between the contractors, consultants and people awarding contracts.”

E greets me: “I read your article and I must admit it has "Himalayan" truth in it. Well I just thought I should share another Potemkin Hospital in Kalomo, also inspected by Mr. George Kunda who promised funds to have it finished and launched by June. It’s the 2nd of June today and the last time I passed by Kalomo to see a friend over a month ago, the has been nothing done to it since February's tour of " Developmental Projects" by the V. President.”

Says F: “There's a Mr. Portmoten in Keembe çonstituency; The Landless Mumbwa Road.

The foundation stone was laid by His Excellence The President Mr RB in November last year. However, the road construction has stalled. For 7 months now the contractor is still grading less than 1km of the 64 km road. Every day the contractor is on site on the same stretch near the Great North Road. They have dug trenches for culverts up to 7km.

One wonders how long it will take this contactor to tar 64 km if in 7 months they can only manage to dig trenches covering 7km.”

Opines G: “You might be interested to know that while Rupiah knows without any shadow of doubt that he will get an almighty hiding on the Copperbelt in the forthcoming election, it hasn’t stopped him dotting some Potemkin projects around the Copperbelt. Here are a few examples:

• He recently decided to sell flats in Itawa at 15m kwacha. What people do not know, or know but choose to ignore is that most of those units are owing large sums to utility companies and quite badly dilapidated. The cost of bringing them up to habitable scratch is more than triple what they paid for them. But then everyone is excited about the 15m flat.

• The road that connects town to Lubuto has seen many a grader and detours without any meaningful change to its quality. Vast portions still remain untarred, despite the area MP becoming a rebel.

• Need I remind you of what happened in Chifubu during the by-election. Ndola residents remember seeing graders and other Earth moving equipment, an apparent facade for development.

• At the moment, a semblance of urban road rehabilitations is taking place in Ndola. I suspect it is going to be officially launched with the same sickening pomp and ceremony as the Lusaka one. Surprisingly this has been going on for months with little improvement in the actual roads”

And so on and on!

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