IT is more than seven years now since late President Michael Chilufya Sata created a 10th province in Zambia, known as Muchinga.
The birth of Muchinga Province came immediately after the defeat of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in the September 20, 2011 tripartite elections and this was announced during the first opening of the National Assembly in the Patriotic Front-PF administration by late President Sata.
In his presidential address,Mr Sata said Northern Province was too vast that development and service delivery was not effective, hence the move to divide Northern Province into two.
The creation of the new province, Muchinga, was part of the PF`s manifesto in its quest
to take power to the people under the Decentralization Policy.
Before then, this part of the country was seemingly neglected with regard to development owing to the vastness of the Northern Province.
However, seven years down the line, the province is still yearning for development.
Both the provincial headquarters, Chinsali, and in eight other districts within the province, the development picture is not exciting.
This is despite the province having a total of K7 billion budgeted for to kick-start the development process.
The K7 billion was to go towards the construction of a six storey provincial administration block, a four storey district administration block, a four storey police divisional headquarters, civil servants houses, modern water reticulation system, an Auditor General office block and modern bus stop.
The money was also supposed to carter for construction of township roads, the Kasama to Chinsali Road and the Chinsali to Mulilansolo Road, the Paul Mushindo University, among others projects in Chinsali.
But these have not been completed.
Elsewhere in Mafinga District, the money was to go towards the construction of civil servants houses, a post office, a district administration block, and a civic centre.
In Shiwang’andu District the budgeted resources was meant for the construction of the district administration, post office, civil servants houses, police station, and the civic centre, Chama-Matumbo Road among others.
The sad thing is that construction works on most of these projects are on-going since 2012 apart from the rehabilitation of the district and the provincial administration offices in Chinsali which gobbled K1 million and have since been occupied.
The construction of the multi-million Kwacha six-storey provincial administration by a Chinese construction company, China Jiangxi, which was expected to be complete in 2015, has remained at 80 per cent for more than two years.
The office block for the Zambia Police divisional headquarters has also remained at 95 per cent complete for close to two years.
Other projects which have stalled in the province include four Government secondary schools namely, Micheal Chilufya Sata Boarding School for girls in Isoka, Katibunga in Mpika and Chibale in Chama District.
Only two projects have been successfully completed in the last seven years and these include Kapasa Makasa University and an office block for the Office of the President (Special Division).
Government had planned to upgrade seven roads in the province to bituminous standard in 2012 including Matumbo-Chama Road and none of them has been completed.
Other road works in the second phase of the 8,000 kilometeres Link-Zambia project of the Road Development Agency (RDA) include Mulilansolo-Chinsali-Chanda Mukulu (Safwa Road) Mpika-Katibunga Mfuwe Road, Nsansamwenje-Nakonde-Kanyala Road up to Malawi border, and Mbesuma- Isoka Road up to Chama.
The Chama/Matumbo Road in particular is an economic road that would result in increased trade from Malawi through Chipata to Chama via Lundazi to Kasama and to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the Matumbo-Chama Road via Samfwa road once complete.
Non completion of the projects has not only worried the people of Muchinga Province but Republican President Edgar Chagwa Lungu as well.
Recently, the Head of State was in the province where he expressed concern at the slow pace at which projects were moving in the area.
President Lungu who physically inspected most of the projects in Muchinga and held meetings with traditional leaders, could not hide his feelings about the projects which have stalled owing to inadequate funding.
10 months ago, President Lungu had visited Muchinga.
During the recent visit, Mr Lungu was disappointed to learn that there was no progress on the projects he visited last year.
Chief Chibesakunda of the Bisa people of Shiwang’andu, Chief Mwenechifungwe of the Fungwe people of Mafinga and Senior Chief Nkula of the Bemba people of Chinsali all expressed displeasure at the non-completion of various projects in their respective districts.
“I spent a night in the bush the other day because of the non-completion of the Isoka/Muyombe Road which is in a bad state. Completion of this road has taken too long and people in the area are suffering especially when it comes to the transportation of farm inputs and produce,” Chief Mwenechifungwe told President Lungu.
Chief Mwenechifungwe also appealed to President Lungu to intervene and ensure that various projects which the Government has embarked on in his chiefdom and the district at large are completed.
He cited the post office project which has stalled saying once completed would greatly benefit the local people.
Chief Chibesakunda also complained to President Lungu that most of the projects in Shiwang’andu had stalled.
Chief Chibesakunda named some of the projects which have stalled as Chama/Matumbo, Civic centre, Matumbo Secondary School and the post office.
During public meetings, President Lungu said he is disappointed with the pace at which projects especially in Muchinga Province, were moving.
President Lungu called for equitable distribution of resources in all the regions in the country.
The Head of state said development is appreciated when resources are equally distributed adding that he will not allow a situation where some regions receive more attention and resources and others get nothing.
“Am very disappointed at the state of affairs in Muchinga with regards to projects which have stalled. Muchinga has remained behind in terms of development when the province gave me and the PF party a lot of votes,” he said.
He lamented that his predecessor late Michael Sata believed in equitable development, a path and vision he has decided to follow.
President Lungu directed Muchinga Minister Malozo Sichone, Finance Minister Felix Mutati, Infrastructure Minister Ronald Chitotela and line Government ministries to ensure that the projects which have stalled are completed soon.
President Lungu promised to return to Muchinga in June or July this year hoping to see progress on most of the projects.
Muchinga Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba said the provincial administration is optimistic that what President Lungu saw during his visit will be worked on.
Dr Kalumba said the landscape of the province will definitely change once funds for the projects which have stalled are released.
“It is a blessing for the people of Muchinga that the President decided to start his country-wide tour of the country with Muchinga to visit all the districts and provinces to physically check on developmental projects.
With the political will exhibited by President Lungu and the PF Government towards bringing development country wide, Zambia can realize its dream of the vision 2030 to turn the country into a middle-income nation.
This can only be achieved with equitable distribution of resources as directed by the Head of state.-ZANIS.