PLANS by the Government to introduce an electronic payment system to collect levies from bus stations and markets in Lusaka will eliminate a huge and lingering source of frustration and friction in two very politically sensitive areas.
Political parties can see the need to have a strong presence at markets and bus stations in Zambia’s most populous city. Everyday, hundreds thousands of Lusakans pass through these places.
It is the same in virtually all the other cities and towns.
For councils, they are cash machines churning out huge amounts of money in daily levies on those who use the facilities as a source of their own livelihood.
Nothing wrong with that, except that for decades going back to the UNIP days, councils have had to fight off cadres of political parties wanting a share of the takings, often outmuscling the councils.
We agree with the view of the Zambia United Local Authorities Worker’s Union ( ZULAWU) expressed at the 12th quadrennial conference in Kabwe on Thursday that political interference in the operations of the councils had left the local authorities broke and unable to provide services to the people.
With the increase in population, the ability of councils to provide such critical daily services such as garbage collection, keeping the street lamps working, and others has become increasingly restricted.
It is against this background that we applaud plans by the Government to introduce smarter forms of levy collection, such as electronic payment system at bus stations and markets.
When one looks at the numbers of mini-buses playing the routes of Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe and the traders who own stalls at markets across all these cities, one can surmise that the amounts of money generated at these places run into millions of Kwacha every month.
If the bulk of this money found its way into the coffers of the councils it would undoubtedly go a long way towards addressing the many financial challenges that these authorities are facing.
It is also our hope that the Government will extend this initiative to other provinces like the Copperbelt where local authorities are facing similar challenges.
We have no doubt that once this well intentioned plan is implemented, it will help bring sanity to our bus stops and markets in different parts of the country.