Is Lusaka falling to pieces?
The other day I got the distinct feeling that Lusaka was falling to pieces. Driving through the capital city right after the first rains, many roads had turned into rivers, with people wading knee-deep in water, drenched by passing vehicles. A little girl failed to clear a drain, and emerged dripping brown water from top to toe, while a young man was ruining his best clothes trying to avoid the concealed drains by cycling down the middle of the road. Draped in colours of grey and brown, there was mud and slush everywhere – and rubbish. As usual the drains had not been cleared, and the torrents flushed out most of the rubbish, dumping it everywhere in murky piles of Chibuku cartons and plastic. This is not a new problem, but I have never seen it this bad. Not only is Lusaka failing to deal with rain and rubbish, it is also at a loss when it comes to the dangers of traffic lights not working, street vending spilling out onto the roads, and bus stations bursting at their seams. Ironically, many people in Lusaka have had to endure months of water rationing this year, only to be told this week that they are in for increased load shedding, while traffic is becoming worse by the day. Lusaka is in a mess. Just ask council workers, who went on strike this week over months of unpaid salaries. Seemingly the authorities do not care. For decades, problems have been window-dressed, with real solutions being delayed by a series of indifferent and corrupt officials. I see it as an omen in these hectic pre-election days. Perhaps, people will choose better leaders in the future.
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly