By STEVEN ZANDE –
VARIOUS stakeholders have expressed mixed feelings over Lusaka mayor’s plan to impose a street lighting levy on Lusaka residents, with some calling on the local authority to conduct wider consultation before imposing the tax.
Lusaka Mayor Wilson Kalumba yesterday announced on his Facebook page that the Lusaka City Council (LCC) was planning to introduce a street lighting levy, which would fund the cost of installing street lights and pay for Zesco units every month.
Mr Kalumba said street lighting improved security and safety, hence residents who enjoyed the benefits would be required to pay the levy every time they bought electricity.
“Lusaka is too dark. I trust that you will support this plan because each service provided must pay for itself, therefore, this will allow our residents to see how we are using the raised funds,” Mr Kalumba said.
He said that depending on the amount of money whi
ch would be realised, this would enable the local authority install additional street lights in more areas of Lusaka.
African Consumers Union (ACU) first vice-president Muyunda Ililonga said the concept was progressive as it would help in the realisation of a clean and well-lit city, but the LCC should ring-fence the money for street lighting purposes.
Mr Ililonga said the local authority had an onerous task to convince Lusaka residents why they should pay an additional levy for a basic service like street lights when funds from some existing levies had allegedly not served the intended purposes.
“Nobody wants to live in a dark city, but residents have lost confidence in LCC’s ability to use collected revenue on the intended purposes,” he said.
Mr Ililonga said in view of the hard economic realities, people were financially strained, hence the need for the local authority to justify why they needed additional income and if the levy was introduced, LCC should ensure the funds were applied appropriately.
A Lusaka resident who commented on the Facebook post appealed to the mayor to consider focusing efforts on improving efficiency in existing service delivery avenues instead of creating more revenue streams, stating that income alone would not solve the council’s problems.
Another one proposed that LCC should install solar-powered street lights instead of the electric facilities, while some lamented that introducing more taxes would not help develop the city.
More Facebook commentators who were monitored by the Times of Zambia were against the plan, stating that it would increase the cost of living in the city while others urged the council to consult widely before implementing the measure.