Solwezi Grapples With Floods

COLD nights are not easy to cope with but when circumstances override normal living conditions, the situation becomes an acceptable way of living.

This is what has become of Evelyn Chitambala, a widow of Kimasala Township in Solwezi District.

This predicament is just one of the many real situations that most residents in Kimasala, Highland, and Kyawama townships have found themselves in, but the question is, is it by choice that these residents live this way?

“I have lived more than 15 years in Kimasala Township, it is during the rainy season that life becomes difficult at night we don’t sleep because we fear the house may collapse on us,” Chitambala narrated.

She moved to this township from her area in chief Mulonga’s area to stay with her late daughter after her husband died.

The house she is living in now was built by her late daughter who has left her with a granddaughter.

Her house has partially collapsed and one room is left hanging on poles with a few sheets of iron on top while the cracked mud walls have remained to support the structure.

From outside, the house appears habitable but going inside it’s another story, the entire floor is soggy with water sipping in through the cracks.

According to Collins Kapumba, a self-employed resident of Kyawama Township, he followed his father from urban area, a location within Solwezi town after he retired from civil service.

His area is just a few kilometres from the township but because he wanted to live near town and there was ‘free’ land in Kyawama area, he moved in and built a mud house a few metres from the Mutanda Road.

Kapumba said “no one questioned me when I move here, it was open land and a number of people started coming to build their houses, now it’s a big township”, he said.

They all came from somewhere to start these illegal settlements as they were called then.

With the evolving trends in social and economic activities in the district, the settlements also adopted township status to legalise habitation.

This attracted an influx of people from all corners of the town to settle in the new found locations pushing the demand for housing to increase.

To meet the demand for housing most houses were poorly built in most cases without foundations.

While all this was going on everyone concerned turned a blind eye to what was happening in these townships.

Despite the townships being in within the municipality area no minimum standard precautionary measures were taken by the planning authority to guide the development of the areas.

The quality of houses and the general outlook of this area attest to this slackness but costly attitude. One is tempted to conclude that the flooding in the areas is the major consequence of ignoring the preliminary requirements for establishing a township.

Services to support the normal way of living such as service access roads, drainages, clinics, refuse bays are not there.

In case of an emergence occurrence, like fire, it would be a catastrophe, the current floods are water borne epidemic trap for as long as it continues to rain.

Pit latrines have collapsed as they cannot stand the pressure of rain water and the effluent is finding its way into the wells which are the sources of drinking water.

It is an unimaginable situation yet life goes on year in year out in these townships which are just separated by name.

It is not strange to step on frogs as one walks through the townships as ditches that where dug to collect the mud for moulding blocks to build the houses are filled up with rain water and have become home for the amphibians.

Sad as it may sound but they these are manmade situations which have now become costly to government.

But to the people, it’s the matter of crying loud to government for assistance but is it the solution?

District Commissioner Crispin Likando said the solution lies in the local authority to ensure that people in flood prone areas build ger houses that can stand the pressure of f floods.

“The problem with our people is that they don’t want to build structures that all whether friendly, most houses that are collapsing cannot stand the pressure of rain water, coupled with the fact that the areas are water logged, it a challenge to the district” he lamented.

Mr Likando said although the Government previously evacuated some people to other areas, a good number of the people refused to move claiming they are used to the areas and could not be moved elsewhere.

He admitted that the compelling people to move from the townships has been a challenge because it becomes political but government cannot fold its hands but assist the affected people in every way possible.

He suggested that finding alternative land for the people would be a lasting solution for those that are willing to relocate as this will create some space for improvement in the townships.

Solwezi Town Clerk, Ronald Daka said the council has plans to improve the quality of the townships in the district to allow for the provision of basic services as stipulated under the Statutory Housing and Improvement areas Act.

Mr Daka said the Act has provided for re-organisation of unplanned settlements so that services such as drainages, roads, piped water supply and standardised structures are built in the areas.

“The process is under way to re design the compounds, the council has engaged surveyors to put plots in order and we would want to provide standard plans for building of permanent houses,” he said.

The commitment to re plan the townships is needed to improve the living standards of the people.

It may sound complicated but if well harnessed by all concerned parties it will surely give everyone a warm sleep.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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