By BRIAN HATYOKA -
UNTIL last week, police officers in Mwandi District of Western Province as well as Kazungula District of Southern Province have been operating under poor and difficult conditions.
For instance, Mwandi Police Post has been in existence since 1972 but it was under Sesheke Police Station.
This Police post operated in a dilapidated building without sanitary facilities at Mwandi Market before the building was condemned and deemed unfit for human habitation.
Due to lack of alternative office accommodation, the Police post relocated and police officers started operating under a tree.
In February 2013, the Patriotic Front (PF) Government engaged Kamanje Enterprise of Lukulu District to construct the new Mwandi Police station and the project was completed in December last year.
Similarly, police officers in Kazungula operated in a two-roomed Police station without toilets and police cells at the border post.
Plans to reconstruct a police station at Kazungula Border post started in 2013 as the Zambia Police Service was preparing for the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Livingstone.
The project, which was undertaken by Nakambala contractor, was supported by the Government last year through the funds for infrastructure development released to the Zambia Police Service.
Last week, Home Affairs Minister Ngosa Simbyakula commissioned Mwandi Police Station which was constructed at a cost of K1, 154, 233.54.
Dr Simbyakula also commissioned Kazungula Police Station which was reconstructed at a cost of K684, 306.95.
Speaking in Mwandi, Dr Simbyakula thanked the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) for providing land for the new police station.
He also asked the BRE to provide an additional piece of land for the construction of Mwandi Police Camp and the traditional leadership responded in affirmative.
He further commended Mwandi Police officers for their patriotic behaviour which prompted a drastic change from operating under a tree to a new building which would house Grade B Police Station.
“The history of Mwandi Police Station yields sad memories on the minds of police officers and the people of Mwandi Constituency.
“Not so long ago, our gallant officers operated as a police post under a tree to ensure that the law and order prevailed in this area, yet without complaining,” Dr Simbyakula said.
He said the PF Government under the leadership of President Michael Sata believed in the enhancement of quality service delivery to all its citizens where ever they were across the country.
Dr Simbyakula, who also handed over a van to Mwandi Police station, also asked BRE in Mwandi to provide more land for the construction of Mwandi Police Camp.
He also urged Western Province Commissioner of Police Lombe Kamukoshi to ensure that that the newly constructed station was periodically maintained to prolong its lifespan.
Dr Simbyakula said his Ministry was aware of challenges of accommodation facing the Zambia Police Service, saying the problem would come to an end soon as the PF Government had embarked on the construction of housing units countrywide.
He also urged the Zambia Police service to uphold professionalism at all times during their operations to inspire confidence among members of the public.
Dr Simbyakula said there was need for the police to continue guarding against laziness in their approach to combat crime so that citizens optimise their benefits of rapid developments delivered by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government.
He said modern and effective policing required the cooperation and partnership between the Police and members of the community.
In Kazungula, Dr Simbyakula said the state of security in border areas was of great concern to the PF Government and President Michael Sata.
“We shall continue to do everything possible to step up security in all our border areas in order to safeguard our citizens.
Among the major things on our priority list is an all round infrastructure development programme,” Dr Simbyakula said.
He said only a safe and secure Zambia could attract meaningful development from both local and foreign investors.
“We may all be aware that Kazungula Police station is strategically located in this area to ably handle, among other things, security matters associated with cross border crime.
“Apart from that, this area is experiencing an influx of tourists from various parts of the world touring our country,” he said.
Dr Simbyakula said his ministry would ensure that staffing levels and other requisites necessary for providing maximum internal security were are put in place
He also warned of stern action against people who were in the habit of misapplying funds meant for public projects.
Dr Simbyakula challenged culprits to stop misapplying public funds because the sting of the law would surely be upon them very soon.
“The PF Government has continued to finance projects which are spearheaded by the local administration staff countrywide so that the local people’s needs are prioritised and addressed.
This requires serious commitment and accountability on the part of those responsible for the application of Government funds,” Dr Simbyakula said.
He said the Kazungula Police Station was constructed at a great cost and hence there was need to safeguard the infrastructure.
“This Police station we are officially opening today is for all of us and a lot of tax payers money has been spent on the project.
Therefore, I urge all of us gathered here and in particular the police command to ensure that this wonderful police building maintains its beauty for many years to come,” he said.
Dr Simbyakula thanked the outgoing Southern Province Commissioner of Police Charity Katanga and her officers for their dedication to duty in the province.
He commended the Police Service for exhibiting high levels of professionalism before, during and after the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in August last year.
Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani commended Mwandi Police officers for their resilience and unwavering dedication to duty.
Ms Libongani said the commissioning of the new Mwandi Police station was the realisation of the PF Government’s resolve to improve the working environment for police officers.
“The construction of this office accommodation has surely re-energised police morale and will enhance the provision of quality security services,” Ms Libongani said.
She also assured the people of Mwandi that more police officers would be sent to the area to reduce incidences of stock theft, assault, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other crimes that were prevalent in the area.
Ms Libongani said the Zambia Police Service had started its restructuring process which would result in increased number of positions being added to the current establishment.
In Kazungula, Ms Libongani said urged residents to work closely with the police to fight crime in the area.
Ms Libongani said her office would consider deploying more police officers to Kazungula Police station.
“I am aware that having more officers on the ground will be a good deterrent measure to organised and trans-border crimes which are prevalent in this area.
“To members of the community in Kazungula, be whistle blowers and report all law breakers to the police because you have a duty to help rid your communities of criminal elements,” Ms Libongani said.
She also said the Government released K2, 500, 000 to the Zambia Police Service to construct and rehabilitate Police stations in Livingstone, Kalomo, Choma and Monze Districts.
Outgoing Southern Province Commissioner of Police Charity Katanga said it was her privilege to see the commissioning of Kazungula police station as she was involved from the time the contract was awarded.
Ms Katanga, who is currently Northern Province Commissioner of Police, thanked the PF Government for reconstructing the police station.
“This police station that we are witnessing today is indeed raising the profile of police service here in Kazungula,” she said.
Ms Katanga appealed to the police command and the Government to also consider other parts of the province such as Neganega police station and Gwembe which may also need a facelift and construction.
Kazungula District Commissioner Pascalina Musokotwane said the new Police station was a testimony that the PF Government was working.
Ms Musokotwane noted that Kazungula was established as a District 13 year ago without a proper police station until last week.
“Many are the times people criticise the PF Government but the truth of the matter is that this administration is working.
“We need to guard this station jealously otherwise it may return to its bad state it was before,” she said.
Mwandi District Commissioner Akufuna Chabi thanked the PF Government for constructing Mwandi Police station.
Ms Chabi said the development was a clear testimony that President Sata’s Government was interested in creating a good working environment for all the workers.
She also urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider establishing an office for the Department of National Registration to enable residents to access National Registration Cards.
“The issuance of NRCs and other documents is one of the cardinal functions at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“I would, therefore, like to appeal to the Ministry to consider opening an office for the Department of National Registration in the near future so that our people can access thee important documents within the District than always travelling to Sesheke District to access the documents,” Ms Chabi said.
She also asked the Ministry to consider constructing an office block for the Immigrations Department which was currently operating from a home.
“It is my hope that the Ministry of Home Affairs will expedite the construction of office accommodation for the Department of Immigrations in Mwandi District.
“Immigration officers in the district have for a long time been operating from home though now they have two rooms they are renting,” Ms Chabi said.
BRE representative Induna Imani thanked the PF Government for promoting infrastructure development in Western Province.
It is only hoped that investors and other entities will consider investing in Mwandi and Kazungula Districts as their investments will be secure.
Residents should also take keen interest to safeguard the police infrastructure constructed at a high cost.