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Dr. Yohane Tembo is a Civil Engineer with over 14 years experience specializing in the design, management and monitoring of roads projects in Zambia. He is currently working for the National Road Fund Agency. He previously held the position of Principal Engineer – Design & Traffic in the Road Development Agency, as well as Quality Assurance Manager in Phoenix Contractors Denmark A/S. He has also held various positions of Design Engineer and Resident Engineer in different consulting firms.
Dr. Tembo received his Bachelor of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Zambia (2000) and his Masters in Civil Engineering (specializing in Transportation Engineering) from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa (2010) before obtaining his PhD In Transportation Economics from Atlantic International University, USA (2014). He is a Full Member of the Engineering Institution of Zambia and the Engineers’ Registration Board.
There are many potential problems with rapid urbanization in any country around the globe, chief of which is the challenge of resource exploitation for sustainable development. This paper studies the effects of rapid urbanization in Zambia, which has seen emerging inefficiencies in housing markets, urban transportation, and urban finance, as well as leading to increased urban pollution and crime. In contrast, plans for urban renewal in Zambia are predominantly donor driven in response to poor urban settlement planning in an environment where planning regulations are barely recognized and enforced.
Key words: crime, economics, environment, housing, regeneration, urbanization.
Rapid urbanization has been identified to be a major problem in Zambia. Recently, the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Hon. Emerine Kabanshi, when addressing the 24th Session of the Governing Council of the UN-Habitat, in Nairobi, is reported to have said that:
… we have also undertaken an assessment of the performance of our cities and towns with regard to access to essential basic services such as housing, solid waste management, water supply and sanitation, as these are critical to the productivity of the urban population… the high rate of urbanization has resulted in infrastructure development lagging behind. As a result, unplanned urban settlements have become a major feature of Zambia’s urban landscape. The role of cities in creating improved economic opportunities for all … could not be more relevant to Zambia being one of the most urbanized countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with 40 percent of the population living in urban areas.
Clearly, the Minister’s pronouncement reflects the magnitude of challenges facing the Zambian urban dwellers, and even more, the challenges facing the government in its efforts to make urban dwelling more productive and comfortable for its citizens. The failure of infrastructural development to keep pace with the increasing numbers of people flocking into our towns and cities in search of a better life can also correspondingly mean the lack of capacity by the government to mobilize sufficient resources which are required for effective response to the urban challenges.
Expectations of the urban dwellers in Zambia are pretty high, and this has always been demonstrated in the pattern of voting, where the opposition parties scoop most of the urban votes while the ruling party thrives in rural Zambia. This is reflective of the low satisfaction levels which our citizens in town have had with the performance of any ruling party in recent years.
Several challenges are easily identifiable and these include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Provision of educational facilities,
- Provision of entertainment facilities,
- Provisional of health facilities,
- Provision of large-scale low-cost housing,
- Provision of water supply and sewerage services,
- Solid waste management,
- Provision of ideal trading environments,
- Provision of transport services,
- Provision of employment opportunities,
- Provision of energy services,
- Provision of security services,
The above list substantially forms the context in which I wish to discuss urban challenges in Zambia; but more so the need to open new frontiers of debate in subsequent publications on the following issues:
- application of microeconomic theory to questions arising in urban economies;
- understanding of market forces and institutions which shape the urban environment; and
- the value of an economic understanding of:
- Why cities exist,
- Why firms within and across industries cluster,
- Why cities grow or decline,
- How prices for land are determined,
- How local governments provide public good, and
- Why some social ills are concentrated in cities.
According to the World Bank, “Cities can be tremendously efficient [and that] it is easier to provide water and sanitation to people living closer together, while access to health, education, and other social and cultural services is also much more readily available. However, as cities grow, the cost of meeting basic needs increases, as does the strain on the environment and natural resources.”
Whereas the statement given by the World Bank may be construed to be true in its own respect, there are many issues that come into play if a city has to achieve its role in sustainable economic development and equitable service delivery. The attributes of market forces, land use policy, economic policy, housing and public policy, transportation policy, government expenditures and taxes, all have their role to play in the economics of cities and their development.
This is especially true in that:
Urban economics is rooted in the location theories of von Thünen, Alonso, Christaller, and Losch that began the process of spatial economic analysis ..., and as all economic phenomena take place within a geographical space, urban economics focuses [on] the allocation of resources across space in relation to urban areas ... Other branches of economics ignore the spatial aspects of decision making but urban economics focuses not only on the location [of] decisions of firms, but also of cities themselves representing centers of economic activity (O'Sullivan 2003:1).
It should be borne in mind that urban economics is a complex field of study, which does not necessarily display homogeneity across the global stage. Many disparities exist from continent-to-continent, region-to-region and country-to-country. For instance, Table 1 below shows that the developed countries have a higher proportion of their citizens living in urban areas, but they also have a higher proportion of their urban population with access to good sanitation facilities. By contrast, the poorest nations of Sub-Saharan Africa have a smaller proportion of their population living in urban areas and an even smaller proportion of those with access to good sanitation facilities. By induction, the same could be said about access to internet, telephone, transportation services, health, education, formal employment, etc.
Table1: Global comparative statistics of urban population and access to improved sanitation facilities
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Source: World Bank © 2013
3. General Analysis
Zambia is a typical Sub-Saharan African country, located where most of the world’s poorest inhabitants live. It has a rapidly growing population currently estimated around 13.88 million people of which more than 60% are youths. This population has grown from about 4 million people in 1969. The population of the City of Lusaka, Zambia’s Capital City, for instance, has grown from about 250,000 people in 1964 to about 2.2 million in 2013, representing about 15% of the national population.
Although it is ranked among the lower middle-income countries group, Zambia, is in the transition phase and is, largely, still a typical third world country. The little income that the nation earns from the export of copper is not sufficient for the government to provide all the essential services to its citizens. The situation is rife for the rural poor who are normally forced to migrate to urban areas in search of a better life. This rural - urban migration has further diminished government’s capability to providing the town dwellers with adequate affordable accommodation, healthcare facilities, proper transportation services, employment opportunities, and other social amenities, among others. Of the many rural migrants that come to town, some are unable to find employment and end up in destitution, which has a tendency to turn some of them to crime. Coupled by heavily centralized governance system, it is extremely difficult for City Councils to respond, with thrift, to some of the challenges highlighted above.
In this treatise, I take a practical look at the unfolding plight of the Zambian urban dwellers and the challenges they face. For a country so endowed with natural resources as we have always learnt in school, it is almost inconceivable that reports of abject poverty could even be tolerable.
Zambia’s urban development is governed by the Town and Country Planning Act Cap 283 of 1969, which was last amended in 1997. The Local Government Act and the Land Act serve as supplementary tools in that regard. Rapid population growth and urbanization has made our cities fail to meet the needs of their residents, and hence affected the quality of life that an average urban dweller enjoys. It has also put a strain on the exploitation of natural resources available in the country. From shortages in electricity, water supply, sanitation facilities, to solid waste management, and from poor health, educational, and transportation services, to lack of social amenities. There are various factors that have led to the deplorable living conditions which have been exacerbated by poor planning and law enforcement. In the sections that follow below, I will attempt to explore the falling urban economics and how they could be addressed.
4.2 Location Theory
The Encyclopedia Britannica  recognizes the work of Johann Heinrich von Thünen, a Prussian landowner who introduced an early theory of agricultural location in 1826. Thünen’s model envisaged a single market surrounded by farmland, both situated on a plain of complete physical homogeneity, in which transportation costs over the plain were related only to the distance traveled and the volume shipped. Recognized further is the work of a German location economist, Alfred Weber, who introduced a theory of industrial location, so called the location triangle, in 1909. Weber is said to have sought to determine the least-cost production location within the triangle by figuring the total cost of transporting raw materials from both sites to the production site and product from the production site to the market. A major contribution to location theory was Walter Christaller’s formulation of the central place theory, which offered geometric explanations as to how settlements and places were located in relation to one another and why settlements function as hamlets, villages, towns, or cities.
This treatise does not bother to venture into mathematical rigors of location theory, but it tries to cover the subject matter from a practical point of view, primarily focusing on facility location and land use in urban areas. It is a known fact that nations do not have sufficient land and, as such, emphasis must be placed on optimal and efficient use of available land in urban areas. It should be noted that “misuse of land further upsets ecological balance. Little scientific guidance is available for the judicious use of this small amount of developable land” as observed by Wang Hung Wen, in his Foreword to Dr. Yupo Chan’s “Solution Manual to Location Theory and Location, Transport and Land-use: Modeling Spatial-Temporal Information”.
Land use planning and management is increasingly becoming crucial in today’s ever-growing cities. Khisty & Lall (2009; 4) acknowledge the phenomenal growth in the number of cities as seen in the last about 150 years:
In 1850, there were four cities in the world with more than 1 million people, and in 1950, there were about a hundred cities of this size. But what is most shocking is that in the year 2000, there were about 400 cities of this magnitude. Naturally, smaller cities will grow into bigger ones, and these in turn will form megalopolises.
Papacostas & Prevedouros (2007; 264-265) add a transport-based historical evolution of urban areas. They note that:
The historical evolution of urban areas suggests that population settlements first occurred beside accessible harbors, lakes, canals, and rivers. These settlements evolved into cities. Later on cities developed at crossroads of major railroads and highway routes. The next stage of evolution brought cities close to the shape recognized today. The city core became an exclusive business center (central business district: CBD), often including high-rise office buildings.
Therefore, modernity requires planners who are aware of this densification and expansionary behavior of our cities, as well as the environmental and social challenges, and constraints that come with that growth. There has to be a realization of the “refusal” distance of an average pedestrian when designing transportation facilities, for instance. Khisty & Lall (2009; 21), in reference to the work of Thomson (1977), appreciate that if there was an inescapable conclusion from a study of the world’s major cities, it was that people everywhere were dissatisfied, often to the point of the public protest, with their transport system, with the way it was developing and the effects it was having on their cities.
Admittedly, a healthy growing city is one that is well planned and managed; not one that is left to develop at the mercy of natural forces. Strong institutions and well-respected laws and rules must govern the development of our cities in Zambia if, one day, we, should aspire to have cities comparable to those in the developed countries. Commensurate financial resources must be allocated to the planning and legislative processes, as well as to law enforcement. Sadly, it is not uncommon, in Zambia today, to hear some folks calling feasibility studies “a waste of time and money”, or to have some designs shelved aside in preference of crude, on-site land demarcation processes without the involvement of qualified land surveyors. The outcome has been a messy urban outlook that we see today and one which is extremely difficult to regenerate.
In the City of Lusaka, for instance, the city development plans left by the colonial masters suffered a huge set-back when Zambia became independent in 1964. The light and heavy industrial areas, west of the Central Business District (CBD), had been reserved sufficient room for expansion to meet future needs. Partially developed roads and fully developed intra-city railway lines had been laid in the reserved area, which was nicely bordered by farms on the western fringe. The nearest planned settlement was some 6km away in Matero Township. Also, there was land to the south of the CBD, bordered by Makeni and Lilayi Farms, reserved for expansion of the CBD. The spirit of liberation triggered the rural-urban migration, and soon, the fortune-seekers from the villages started erecting shacks within reasonable walking distance to the CBD in their quest for business and employment opportunities. Looking back now, the effect has been disastrous: all the space left for the expansion of the industrial and commercial zones have bred a cluster of unplanned settlements. To the west of the CBD are George, Kanyama, and John Laing Townships and to the south are Misisi, Chawama and John Howard Townships. The English names were naturally adopted from the remaining colonialists that once occupied those farm blocks.
With the City deprived of its opportunity to develop as planned, we have now seen the mushrooming of industrial businesses in the residential areas. There have been some environmental concerns regarding obnoxious industrial waste and emissions which could affect the residents in the concerned areas. Yet, other industries have had to establish themselves in the outskirts against prospects of increased transport costs on their products, and hence becoming less competitive on the urban market than their counterparts who were privileged to find space nearer town.
The planned suburbs to the east of the CBD have grown to their city limits, pushing further out the small-holder farmers who are vital to supplying the urban residents with fresh vegetables, fruits, and poultry products. The two Multi-Facility Economic Zones have had to be located in Chongwe District, outside of the City fringe due to the scarcity of land in the City of Lusaka. This actually calls for urgent response mechanisms in terms of optimized urban renewal and re-zoning programs, which should take into account the cost of doing business, environmental issues, ease of travel demand forecasting, and social attributes of any properly governed urban or peri-urban set-up.
However, there is one aspect which we need to bear in mind: many cities have grown organically, i.e. naturally, and it has been extremely difficult to try and re-plan them against the backdrop of budget deficits in Zambia. Countries that have the wherewithal to do so, may have managed to build newer cities to meet their new economic and administrative objectives. Examples of Washington D.C., Pretoria, Dodoma, and Abuja resound audibly in our minds; and we can also cite well engineered cities such as Dubai in the land flowing with excess oil revenues. But it is important to always try and avert the problem whenever possible by enacting laws that can be respected by the citizens of any nation. If cities were nicely planned and the infrastructure was well designed and appropriately located, the prospects of economic success would be unrestricted.
Given the current encumbrances of poor city planning, the prospect of successful urban renewal would be hard to fathom in our context. Elsewhere in the U.K. exists some example of successful urban renewal programs. Harvey & Jowsey (2007; 443-444), give an entirely different perspective of how urban regeneration can be meaningfully used to benefit the affected towns:
Until the 1980s, regional policy tended to concentrate on attracting firms to the regions where structural change had led to high rates of unemployment. But there were weaknesses. In focusing aid on manufacturing industry it failed to take advantage of the growing service industries. Moreover, the objective of actual job creation was lost sight of through the concentration on investment grants to attract firms… For instance within London’s boundaries there are 15 of the 20 most deprived areas in the UK. Often these areas have a predominantly ethnic population needing to be taught new skills.
It was recognized that regeneration was not simply tidying up derelict land. It had to rebuild communities by providing them with jobs and decent living conditions, chiefly by attracting investment from the private sector. As a result urban regeneration had to be coordinated with regional industrial policy. In fact funds were switched from regional assistance to urban regeneration program, though it must be recognized that much of the urban regeneration was in Assisted Areas. With the object of regenerating these run-down areas the government introduced a variety of schemes – Enterprise Zones, Urban Development Corporations, City Grants, City Challenge – which were amended in light of experience or the need to reduce the financial commitment.
Given the complexity of such urban regeneration schemes in the U.K., we need to be fully aware of our deprivation levels in Zambia and implement plans that would require fewer resources in futuristic remodeling.
4.3 Urbanization and Local Government
It is important to realize that urbanization is good for effective service delivery and governing of the masses, as earlier alluded to by the World Bank. It accelerates economic growth by providing ready human capital required for performing economic activities and it also provides a ready market for goods and services. However, urbanization comes along with it a huge financial and administrative challenge. It requires efficient and effective planning and legislative tools to assist in orderly economic progression and creation of clean habitable and working, or trading, environments, as well as regulation of pollution and other social ills.
In Zambia, the Local Government Act and the Town and Country Planning Act have been put in place to assist the administration of urban planning in the development process. These Acts are obviously supplemented by other Acts that deal with Public Order and Law Enforcement in the country. To ensure the full participation of residents in the Council’s business, we have the elected Ward Councilors who sit with the Members of Parliament and Council professional staff to constitute a Full Council. The Full Council is where approvals to plan and allocate land, re-development plans, and enacting of by-laws are made. Matters are fully debated in the Full Council prior to giving of any authorization for any developmental plans in our cities. However, there is a gap in the debate process as, often, stakeholder meetings are not held in the Constituency Halls, thereby leaving the residents behind in Council plans.
The absence of stakeholder meetings has provided an atmosphere which enables only a few influential elected office holders, with obvious bias to the ruling party, to grind their way to key decisions that favor a minority of citizens. In some instances, residents have awaken only to find that a school football pitch has been converted into a residential site; and when residents confront the developers, it turns out to be a straight forward matter the developers produce Council Authorization. Beer halls and night clubs have mushroomed, in unexplained circumstances, in the residential areas and market places, contrary to governing rules for liquor licensing and trading rights. Noise regulation permits are, but seemingly, non-existent when it comes to public or private functions that disturb the neighborhood.
Municipal and local government autonomy is cardinal to the process of effectively achieving the objectives and goals of Councils. The operations of the Councils should be less susceptible to Central Government interference except to the extent that is constitutionally acceptable. To fully achieve this, implementation of the Decentralization Policy must be implemented should be a matter of urgency. Massive benefits will, of course, materialize in form of attraction to foreign investments directly into the region-states, which is directly linked to the new paradigm of the globalized economy. In actual sense, devolved mandates to the region-states would entail more order and compliance levels to regulations.
4.4 Housing Markets
The housing market in Zambian cities and towns has a pretty huge demand, with a projected deficit of 2 million housing units to the end of 2012. It is a non-homogeneous market in which the government, through the National Housing Authority, and private developers share the construction of houses and apartments. A number of institutional houses and apartment blocks have been constructed over time by the University of Zambia, National Pension Scheme Authority, Zambia State Insurance, Workmen’s Compensation Fund, Bank of Zambia, and some mining firms as well as some Local Authorities, etc. Institutional housing is normally reserved for employees of respective institutions although, lately, we have seen the National Pension Scheme Authority sub-letting their properties to the open market or opting for out-right purchase.
Provision of decent accommodation remains an emotive issue in Zambia. Previously, we have seen an escalation of this issue to the Office of the President, especially in mid 1990s. Late President, Fredrick Chiluba, had to implement a special program called Presidential Housing Initiative (PHI). For a start, the President had to source land within prime areas of the City of Lusaka and the City of Ndola for construction of low-cost, medium-cost, and High-cost housing units. In the City of Lusaka, similar schemes have now been implemented by private property developers in slightly modified arrangements such as the Salama Park Housing Project the Meanwood Housing Development. The private property developers have had to purchase farmland, which they demarcated into different classes of housing, commercial, and social amenities. They then invited individual developers were invited to purchase plots and develop their properties according to pre-approved plans.
While access to electricity service lines is generally not a problem, roads, water supply and sewerage services remain a huge challenge. Boreholes and septic tanks have been extensively used to temporarily tackle the problem of water supply and sewerage, a practice that raises grave concerns about the quality of ground water supply in the areas full of septic tanks. Given the astronomical cost of constructing paved roads, the private developers could only manage to open up the roads to earth and gravel standard, to the dislike of residents who feel they have been cheated into purchasing plots on the pretext that high-class services would be provided as enshrined in their agreements of sale.
The emergence of Real Estates Agents characterizes the Zambia’s modern up-market property development in our cities. These Agents are believed to possess stealthy means of obtaining contact details of property owners and their uncanny behavior exhibits in the manner many potential clients attest to being duped. Although an association of Real Estates Agents is known to exist, it is still nascent and the system is indistinct on reciprocal government instruments for regulating the housing market. It is not apparent whether freelancing in this market is due to the free market economic policies professed in Zambia; still some form of regulation in this fledgling market is essential to maintaining sanity. Property buyers need some protection especially that most of them do not utilize financial instruments such as mortgage when purchasing properties.
There is another dimension to the housing market in Zambia: Local Authorities no longer play a role in the determination of rentals ever since the government decided to sell all state-owned houses to the sitting tenants. As such, the market has become increasingly distorted especially with the involvement of Real Estates Agents. The single-most important factor that has pushed up the rentals is the scarcity of land around our cities. Most of the land in the city fringes is Traditional Land, which is in the hands of chiefs and headmen. This land is very affordable to the low-income urban residents who normally scramble for it once they see an opportunity. In the end, development of the properties normally commences without the involvement of the City Council, whose jurisdiction ends at the city fringe, often to the detriment of systematic township planning and development. Consequently, it has become difficult for our City Councils to have seamless transportation, water, and sewerage services. In that respect, pecuniary commuting costs and housing consumption have failed to fully benefit the peri-urban dwellers in our cities without regulated sprawl.
Most of the slums have been legitimized and services, such as electricity and paved roads, have been provided although the realization of complete urban renewal is estimated many generations from now. There is a very high possibility that the five-year term for political office holders is restrictive to the taking of reasonable decisions aimed at effective urban regeneration programs. But even in countries where democracy is absent, these challenges exist. Hsing (2010) notes a very complicated web of scenarios and actions that pertain to the Chinese landscape. He observes that:
Urban modernity, more than industrial modernity, now captures the political imagination of local state leaders… The urbanization of the local state defines the relationship among the local state, the market, and society. It also triggers three types of distributional politics that challenge the legitimacy of the local state’s urban identity and its projects. The first is a politics of resistance, calling for property and social rights. Forced eviction and inadequate compensation in urban redevelopment projects has been the primary trigger of widespread contention and social activism in the urban core. The second is a nonconfrontational politics for economic rights in which land-owning village collectives at the rapidly developing urban fringe bargain with the urban government, profit from urban property markets, and define and defend their territorial autonomy under metropolitan governance.
The third type of distributional politics concerns more than 50 million displaced peasants in rural areas. Displaced peasants share with their urban counterparts grievances over forced and violent eviction and inadequate housing compensation, as well as demands for property and social rights. However, while the number of peasants pushed off their land in the last twenty years has been growing, and land-related rural protests are increasingly frequent and violent, peasants’ mobilization remains largely fragmented and localized.
Indeed, politics and poverty have a role to play in land administration and, eventually, the housing market. The government can play an even bigger role in bringing sanity to the housing market by enacting laws that regulate land allocation and which enable the equitable distribution of services and amenities within our cities. We all know that slums benefit no one in terms of service delivery: no taxes are collected from there but the Councils are expected to deliver services to them. The government must therefore have clear policies on abating the proliferation of slums in Zambian cities, and how urban renewal programs are to be administered going forward, while working on mechanisms for increasing the tax base by making slums taxable in form of property rates.
4.5 Urban Transportation
Urban transit poses another scale of challenges for those living and working in cities and towns. Appropriate analysis tools and urban transportation policies are required for an efficient and effective urban transit system. As part of the broader economic problem which involves several inter-connected factors to analyze and guide policy formulation, urban transit has been a major encumbrance for many emerging cities across the globe. Randall Eberts postulates that:
Policy concerns in the next millennium will increasingly focus on the effects of transportation on where people live and on where businesses locate; and on the effects that these location decisions have on land use patterns, congestion of urban transportation systems, use of natural resources, air and water quality, and the overall quality of life. Issues of urban sprawl … have already pushed their way to the forefront of policy debates at both the national and local levels. To make prudent decisions, policy makers must be equipped with the best information and analysis possible about the interactions among these various factors.
Eberts, in his extension of the debate on urban transit, poses a challenging question: “What is the trade-off between additional growth in an urban area and the cost of expanding transportation systems to accommodate greater growth?” While this question may be more appropriate to cities that are already developed, it may as well give us an opportunity to reflect on the responses given, which could help us to plan our cities that are still developing.
While planning is good for proper transportation systems, it should be appreciated that many cities around the world have generally followed monocentric development models, where people live away from the Central Business District (CBD). This means that every morning, people must commute to work in the CBD and every evening they must go back to their residences. Business is very lucrative in the CBD and the turnover is quite high, and this keeps attracting the traders to town centre on a daily basis.
For the City of Lusaka, all transport routes were initially designed on a radial basis, with the transport hub being in the CBD. Until lately, all banking and key commercial services were located in the town centre, but due to the encumbrances of travel and financial burden, we have seen chain stores and banking posts relocating into residential areas. Still, all those intending to go to any residential area across town have to go through town as there are no legal by-pass routes serviced by public transport. The only option available to those who wish to avoid passing through town is the use of taxis if they do not own a car.
However, most of the city’s businesses are still located in the CBD and the demand for travel into town has been increasing through and through. This is reflected in the high levels of congestion that the city has been experiencing, the negative effects of which are well-known, especially in terms of increased travel cost, high fuel consumption, air pollution, and unimaginable travel time losses, leading to further businesses loses productivity and profitability.
In mitigation, the Lusaka City Council, with the help of JICA, developed a Lusaka City Development Master Plan – Vision 2030 in a bid to have more systematic development of the city and in which the prioritized Ring Roads would be constructed using Japanese Grant Aid. The Master Plan was motivated following Zambia’s then President’s visit to Japan in 2005 which was also accompanied by debt relief in accordance with HIPC Initiative.
Writing in The Post newspaper (2005), Mr. Webster Malido reported from Tokyo during late Levy Mwanawasa’s visit to Japan that “Japan had written off a total of US$688.8 million out of a total debt of US$790.8 million that Zambia owes it.” By 2008, Lusaka City Development Master Plan – Vision 2030 had been put in place, at which time traffic congestion had already reached jam densities across the city. Currently, peak hour jams are reaching up to one-and-half hours on twenty-minute trips around the city without the intervention of traffic police. To try and address the congestion problem, several recommendations were made in the Lusaka City Development Master Plan and these include:
- Construction of ring roads around the city, at 5km and 10km radius,
- Expansion of arterial routes,
- Construction of additional urban railway lines and revamping Njanji Commuter Trains,
- Development of a cluster of satellite towns and multi-facility economic zones,
Apparently, all these recommended actions require land acquisition; which land is in critical shortage in the City of Lusaka. The huge number of unplanned settlements around the city is posing a threat to the effective implementation of the Lusaka City Development Master Plan – Vision 2030. Luckily, Chongwe District Council, some forty kilometers east of Lusaka has had to come to the rescue of Lusaka City Council by providing portions of land along its border with the City of Lusaka for the construction of two Multi-facility Economic Zones. The facilities are slowly taking shape but the projects are not expected to be fully functional until sometime beyond 2015. This, apparently, means that the Lusaka urban transportation problems are unlikely to ease in the near future. Even after the Multi-facility Economic Zones have become fully functional, it is not clear how much traffic is anticipated to be attracted to the facilities and whether that would be significant enough to cause any real changes in traffic distribution patterns.
Concerns regarding expensive land expropriation schemes were recently echoed by Lusaka Province Minister, Hon. Freedom Sikazwe, who warned the ruling party cadres against engaging themselves in selling of illegal land in Kabwata Constituency, noting that “some townships have built houses in roads making it difficult for government to rehabilitate the road network.” Hon. Sikazwe “further noted that such situations should be avoided because government is put in an awkward situation of buying houses from people so that they demolish in order to construct infrastructures.”
No immediate relief to the congestion on the arterial roads south of Lusaka is anticipated in the near future until construction of the Ring Road has been completed. Neither have we heard publicly anything to do with the construction of new intra-urban railway lines, nor anything regarding the revamping of the Njanji Commuter Train in the City of Lusaka. In fact, silence is growing on the development of clusters around the City of Lusaka to cut the distance travelled by the city dwellers to their places of work.
The escalating cost of land in urban areas calls for consideration of alternative underground transportation and drainage systems. But perhaps, the poverty status of the country and the high cost of drilling and maintaining the tunnels may be prohibitive at the moment. That being the case, then our policy makers and city planners must be looking to more effective urban surface transportation management systems. It, therefore, leaves them with no choice but to legislate in favor of mass-transit systems instead of promoting chaotic minibuses. The Bus Rapid Transit (on the main corridors) and Commuter Trains are the way to go for Lusaka’s urban population to reduce the high cost of congestion on the city’s businesses. Ownership of School Buses by all schools in the city must be encouraged in order to avoid parents having to drop off their children at school and thereby adding to the peak-hour congestion.
The city planners must do their planning; they cannot just let the city grow unplanned. They must re-plan the city to show their understanding of differential land use (commercial, industrial, residential), determine land-occupancy density and limits for the high-rise, and take natural advantages of transport networks. They really need to demonstrate their understanding of location patterns in the city. With a population of about 2.2 million and so much space in districts around the City of Lusaka, we should not expect the type of chaos that we now see on our roads. Yves Zenou wonders too: “…cities like London have a population of around 10 million people concentrated in a very small area. We could expect a huge mess. However, things are not organized at random. How come cities show so much order? Who's responsible for this? The planners? Self-organization? To put things differently, is self-organization good? Does it lead to desirable outcomes?”
Clearly, self organization does not lead to desirable outcomes, and unless our city planners and policy makers work together in a systematic and integrated manner, chaos will continue to follow us in our cities. The linear and monocentric growth model of the city does not seem to work for the City of Lusaka, and this has been recognized in the Lusaka City Development Master Plan – Vision 2030. Therefore, the government must give up more of State Land for development of industrial clusters and satellite towns around the City of Lusaka. The private sector must be called upon to help with the mobilization of resources and construction of the requisite facilities through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).
4.6 Urban Pollution
It is a well-known fact that when people are closer together, it is easier to provide a service than when they are farther apart. In Zambia, this concept was well understood by the First Republican President Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, who even called for village-regrouping for the efficient provision of health, educational, transportation and other services. The program was not much of a success, though, due to traditional jurisdictional challenges as some chiefs feared they could turn out losers.
In urban Zambia, we have the mining towns of Copperbelt and Northwestern Provinces, agricultural towns such as Mazabuka, the home of sugar cane, the tourist town of Livingstone, and other regular commercial towns around the country. In all cases, the urban challenge of pollution is present in one form or another. The following types of urban pollution challenges are obviously not unique to Zambia:
- Air pollution,
- Surface water pollution,
- Solid waste,
- Groundwater contamination
- Sewer (septic tanks)
- Noise and light pollution
Historically, air pollution has been a major problem of the mining towns in the Copperbelt. Statutory emission limits for mining and industrial emissions imposed by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency may be monitored and achieved to some extent, but that does not take away the effect of sustained exposure of both humans and buildings to aggressive pollutant elements. A common feature in the mining towns of the Copperbelt is the “brown roof” – a sign of persistent exposure to corrosive acidic emissions over time. Understandably, mining is the mainstay of Zambia’s economy and the country has no option but to continue mining, but thrift must have been shown in decisions on where the mining operations and residential areas had to be located, in the first place. Further, appropriate building materials should have been used for roof construction.
While I have not come across any evidence of some studies to ascertain the impact of mining activities on the health of residents, I can aver, from experience, that periodic check-ups for silicosis in serving miners is a common feature on the Copperbelt. Normally, those found with the infection are laid off because they can longer continue to work under the polluted conditions in the mines. This has often led to destitution on the part of those employees who are laid off, with undoubtedly adverse impact on their families in the absence of post-employment welfare benefits for sustenance.
Air quality in most Zambian cities generally suffers due to the large number of unpaved urban roads which tend to produce quite some dust under traffic or in the presence of wind storms. This is a good recipe for transmission of airborne tracheal infections. The negative effect of unpaved roads extends to pedestrians and motorists, often requiring regular cleaning of shoes and car-washing, respectively. While the cost of inconvenience for regular wiping of shoes is difficult to estimate, the cost of cleaning cars is often determined by roadside car-wash garages. The only positive thing is that car-washing has become big-time business and a source of employment in our cities.
Burning of household solid waste, due to failure by the City Councils to collect refuse, contributes significantly to air pollution in our cities. Although it is a civic responsibility for the Councils to collect solid waste, some District Councils have had to sublet this function to the private sector in which residents make direct payments to the refuse collectors. Nonetheless, the willingness-to-pay by the residents can be attributed to the program’s ineffectiveness. While this may be a special program for residential areas, the Council still retains this function of refuse collection in the CBD, where their performance has not been much impressive. For instance, there are many cases where one has to walk long distances in town to come across a waste bin, while litter is strewn around our towns. This contrasts sharply with the performance of Councils in the 1970s and early 1980s where certain towns competed for the cleanest town in Zambia.
The risk of groundwater or surface water pollution is high in cities due to mining and industrial discharges. In Zambia’s mining towns, the major source of surface water pollution has been sulfuric acid leaks into natural streams, and to some extent, acidic emissions depositing in open water sources. In Kabwe, which houses a Lead Mine, the presence of heavy metals in underground and surface water has been a major concern. In the City of Lusaka, grave yards, pit latrines in vastly unplanned settlements, and septic tanks, have been major sources of groundwater pollution. Most of the residents in and around the city depend on borehole water as the Water and Sewerage Company cannot meet the high water demand through its Iolando Water Plant, located some fifty kilometers away along the banks of the Kafue River. My estimate is that over 90% of the City of Lusaka has no sewer lines to collect waste water and this presents a phenomenal challenge to quality of ground water sources.
Reference to Table 1 above shows that general access to improved sanitation facilities for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is very poor, and that Zambia has not been spared in that regard. For instance, the deteriorating standards in Chibolya Township, right in the heart of the City of Lusaka, has seen some of its residents turn to “flying toilets” where the residents defecate into plastic bags which are later thrown away into ditches. Alarming as the situation may sound; the onus for restoration of the dignity of residents rests with the Lusaka City Council. There is need to ensure total enforcement of the regulations which are contained in the Town and Country Planning Act No. 283, and spare the residents from potential outbreak of any diseases. The dolomite sub-structure of Lusaka makes it even harder for deeper pit latrines to be constructed in our slums, while at the same time permitting most underground water to flow unfiltered.
The deplorable hygienic conditions have been exacerbated by the general breakdown of the Rule of Law which has given rise to street vending which has created unsanitary trading corridors around our cities. This is in contravention of the Town and Country Planning Act No. 283 which mandates Local Authorities to provide decent market places for trading.
The other dimension of urban pollution rocking our cities is noise pollution. In Zambia, low-cost urban areas are lively and very noisy compared to the quiet and normally peaceful high-cost areas. Business in the City of Lusaka starts as early as 5 a.m. for traders, and although most of the shops are closed by 6 p.m., the shopping malls go on until about 9 p.m. On many transport routes, it is not uncommon nowadays to spot passenger minibuses operating twenty-four hours. There is particular concern regarding noise pollution that comes from unregulated bars and night clubs that operate in the vicinity of residences. In a country that has purportedly become Southern African most-drunken nation; the City Councils have on many occasions tried to ban illicit liquor traders from operating overnight, but to no avail. Bars officially open at 10 a.m. and discotheques officially close at 6 a.m., seven days a week. This challenge also calls for the attention of our legislators and their proactive enforcement of the law.
Light pollution, by contrast to megalopolises in many developed countries where neighborhoods are well-lit and light has the potential to disrupt sleep at night, may not be so much of a problem in our cities, thanks in part to poorly-lit neighborhoods and prevailing power deficits.
4.7 Urban Finance
Urban finance is quite a diverse topic and I will broadly explore the various aspects that concern the Zambian experience. Let me starting with urban unemployment, which though is a global problem and not one that is unique to Zambia, has contributed immensely to the loss of dignity among our urban folks. In July 2011, then Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, M.P., was reported to have said that:
“The number of Zambians in formal employment has increased by 50 percent from 500,000 to 750,000 this year following a steady rise in job opportunities being created in the mining, agriculture, construction and other sectors of the economy…the remaining 6 million people who are statistically eligible to formal jobs would be swallowed within the next five years following the speedy rise in the number of job opportunities.”
The statement made by the Minister of Finance implied that at least 6 million Zambians are in informal employment, trading in the markets, streets, or just working for individual employers – all of whom do not meaningfully contribute in taxes. With this colossal loss of income by the government, it is quite difficult for government to provide decent accommodation, transport, health and educational services, as well as other social amenities for the urban populace. It is incumbent upon government to ensure that all economic activities taking place in the country contribute meaningfully to the treasury, and ignoring the majority informal businesses in the tax base can never help the nation in any way. Taxes are the only way government can raise enough revenues for efficient and effective service delivery.
The thriving private schools and clinics which are on the increase in our cities are a big drain on personal and household incomes, robbing citizens of extra disposable income due to overpricing in tuition fees in the name of providing effective and efficient educational and medical services. But if the government could collect enough revenues and was able to support well-staffed schools and clinics, the citizenry could save their extra kwacha and use it on other pressing needs. Multiplier benefits would also be seen in the rising numbers of citizens able to take holidays, or who can access more luxurious social amenities.
The Minister’s postulation that the remaining 6 million eligible Zambians would become employed in five years’ time appears to have been a gross overstatement which could only be attributed to the campaign fever as 2011 was an election year. The realistic projections for absorbing as many as 6 million people into formal employment are difficult to make in a country which has struggled to diversify its economy for the past 50 years of its independence. The instability in global copper prices makes it hard to project a strong future economic outlook that guarantees stable job market in the mining sector. The government has, often, had to respond to periodic employee lay-offs in the mining sector. Considering that growth in the agriculture sector largely favors existing subsistence and commercial farmers, rather than creating notable new jobs and that the manufacturing sector growth has been steady over the years, I do not reasonably see possibilities of a sudden unusual demand that can take on over 6 million people in five years.
The low absorption capacity into formal employment may also be attributed to low economic activity in the country. This is due to the importation of already finished products and hardly any value-addition to exports. In the First Republic of Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda’s government, Livingstone town, for instance, had a motor-vehicle assembly plant and radio assembly plant, but these facilities have since been closed down, leading to job sublimation. Chipata Municipal Council, at the same time, had a bicycle assembly plant but the facility was now only used to stock already assembled bicycles. The Kapiri Mposhi Glass Factory was closed down in preference of already processed Chinese pottery. Notwithstanding the benefits that came with the Economic Structural Adjustment Program and the Privatization Program of the early 1990s, the nation seems to have failed to recover comfortably from the massive unprecedented job losses that had followed. Partial benefits point to the fact that most of the entrepreneurship and informal employment market the nation enjoys today was actually born out of these economic adjustment programs. Their contribution to the fiscus, though, is considerably marginal.
In a recent article which appeared in the Zambia Daily Mail, one contributor observed that:
Unemployment situation in Zambia has brought great misery to school-leavers and graduates, who have now become ‘professional pedestrians’ and vendors on the streets looking for employment which is not available… because of the high level of unemployment in Zambia, graduates are now forced to indulge themselves in illicit activities, including prostitution, theft, and drug abuse.
If our perception of unemployment is that bad, then we would expect rising poverty levels. This is exactly what the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) is trying to address. According to JCTR, the total basic needs budget for an urban dweller in the City of Lusaka was K 2, 897,430 (or in rebased kwacha Kr 2,897.43 or US$579) for December 2010, Kr 2,904.15 (US$580), for December 2011, and Kr 3,532.10 (US$706) for December 2012. The costs estimated here did not include the cost of fuel, transport, education and health. According to the Ministry of Labor, the highest gazetted minimum wage for Category IV – Qualified Clerk (with a formal certificate or diploma) was K 1,079,500 (or in rebased kwacha of Kr 1,079.50 and US$215) per month as of 2006. In 2011, the new Patriotic Front government announced the new minimum wage rates per month through Statutory Instrument Order 2011 number 1, 2, and 3, where the Category IV – Qualified Clerk would earn K2,101,039 (or in rebased kwacha of Kr 2,101.04 or US$420)
A comparison between the total basic needs budget compiled by the JCTR and the stipulated minimum wages sanctioned by the government, clearly shows that the average employee is living way below their earnings. At this rate, it means that the average employee is unable to ever generate a surplus in their income unless they got involved in other money-making ventures. The outcome of this has been the high levels of fraud and corruption in the civil service and private sector firms. Coupled with a post-retirement bleak future and uncertainty over payment of retirement benefits, many employees presume they have to “enterprise”, while they are still in employment, for decent and majestic aging, years after their usefulness to the national economy has long expired.
To bridge the deficits in personal budgets, financial institutions have developed schemes for unsecured loans to employees in formal employment, both in the private and public service. Of course, the primary target was the public service employees due to economies of scale. Loan repayments are made through the pay-roll and the employer makes monthly returns to the participating financial institution. However, this kind of borrowing has had an adverse impact on the performance of employees who had borrowed un-sustainably. This prompted the government to impose a capping on the monthly deductions on the pay slip to 65% of gross monthly earnings to ensure that employees were not being driven into temptations of theft, fraud and corruption in order to remain afloat.
However, the measure taken did not appear to provide the much-needed relief to the employees as the applicable interest rates were still too high. To protect public service employees and offer more regulation to the micro-lending financial market, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Alexander Chikwanda, M.P., announced on March 23, 2013, that:
Government has registered a micro-finance institution which will be charged with the responsibility of disbursing affordable credit to public service workers at a lending rate not exceeding 5 percent… this is meant to trigger the downward movement in interest rates. … The innovation is in response to the micro finance institutions that have formed curtails to manipulate banking services and credits thereby making abnormal profits.
The measures being put in place, aimed at leveraging the heavily taxed small workforce in Zambia, were laudable, although they were inadequate, in the short-to-medium term, to drive the urban dweller out of abject poverty. Their meager earnings are quickly wiped out in annual, or even bi-annual, increases in commodity prices, educational, medical, and transportation costs. The broader economic impact on the majority of urban dwellers, especially in the peri-urban, is the inability to meet the basic needs, thereby depriving their often large extended families access to quality education, resulting in high illiteracy levels, and access to good medical facilities.
The burden of urban finance extends to government ministries and departments as well. The effect of this has been very few clinics and schools built in our urban areas. Often, people need to walk not less than five to eight kilometers to reach the nearest government clinic or school. The service in such clinics and schools has also been affected due to overcrowding. The net effect is the huge pupil/teacher or patient/doctor ratio coupled with absence of essential drugs in most clinics and hospitals.
With lack of social and recreational facilities, our youths can only find comfort in playing on streets, where vice resurgence is rife. This has an implication on the type of cadre we are trying to groom in form of street kids. Thousands flock to street and highway intersections where they position themselves to beg for donations from motorists. Many people with physical challenges have also taken advantage of the same opportunities to beg from the public for a daily sustenance. Intervening efforts of the non-governmental organizations (NGO) have not proved successful in addressing the plight of the poor, and their dwindling financing arrangements are not sustainable, either.
Much is expected from the government through local government financing schemes. Councils in Zambia mainly depend on meager municipality grants from the Central Government, without having to collect much from their property taxes. Early 2013, we heard some media reports that the Lusaka City Council, for instance, was about to issue a US$500 million Municipality Development Bond. This was a great initiative to bridging the municipality development budget deficit, but the agony lay in the incoherent developmental initiatives and lack of capacity to undertake initiatives that could expand the Council’s revenue base.
Rather than start by borrowing from the international financial markets, my view was that our City Council starts by first collecting all the property rates and levies within their jurisdiction, however small that may be. Their hope should not be diminished with the fact that City of Lusaka has such a huge cluster of slums that could make up over 80% of the city, with probable less than 10% property rates payers within the city. Even as the Lusaka City Council plans to borrow, they should be mindful of debt sustainability constraints and its capability to service the credit. Perhaps, a word of caution comes from Chapman & Gorina (2012) who observed that:
Many American cities are still struggling with the effects of the latest recession… The long downturn became a litmus test of the health of local budgets and revealed important structural and institutional settings in which city governments make revenue and expenditure decisions. A vast majority of American cities rely on property taxes, local sales taxes, user fees and, less often, on income taxes for their budget revenues… The recession demonstrated that changes in economic conditions weaken all major sources of municipal own-source revenue… Property tax collections, a traditionally stable local revenue source, have also not been immune to the negative effects of the downturn. The American housing market crisis triggered a decline in property market values. The latter gradually led to a decline in property assessment values, which in turn affected property tax collections.
It would be baseless to encourage the Lusaka City Council to borrow when it can’t even collect its property rates and levies when there is no deterrent to do so. The risk analysis could easily reveal that such a Council does not possess the capability to pay back its loans if it is already struggling with its own salaries.
Crime, in its varying degrees, is rife in many cities around the globe: theft, murder, burglary, fraud and corruption, adultery, assault, drug-trafficking, etc.; the list is endless. Zambian cities enjoy no exemptions in that regard. In some respect, the occurrence of crime seems to draw no relationship with the level of development of any nation. Further, it appears that offenders commit crimes irrespective of the punitive measures that a country has put in place. For instance, in the United States, there are 2.3 million Prisoners in American correctional centers, costing about US$24,000 per inmate per year. This translates to about US$55.2 billion per annum in correctional costs. Yet, shootings in cinema halls, shopping malls, military barracks, schools, colleges and universities are reported on a regular basis. This contrasts the fact the US is a very developed country.
On the hand, Zambian cities and towns have not been spared atrocities against the citizens. Grisly killings of cab drivers, who are found to have been stripped of vital organs and left defaced, have been on the rise. Speculation has been mounting about the use of vital organs in ritual practices for good luck in business. The motivation seems to be centered on quick wealth acquisition. Whether the killers actually get the perceived wealth or not, society can’t tell but the practice is growing in the dark scene.
Currently, theft of motor vehicles has reduced ever since the Zambian government permitted the purchase of second-hand vehicles from Japan in early 1990s. It seems that the market for stolen vehicles suddenly collapsed and there was no longer much incentive in stealing cars. What we have seen on the rise, instead, has been the theft of wheels, head-lamps, and side-mirrors which are later resold in motor-vehicle spare-part shops. What is worrying is that these thefts mostly occur at police stations where, urban residents who do not have safe parking places at their homes, “park at own risk” despite paying a parking fee to the station commanders.
Those who commit burglary no longer have to do it when house occupants are deep in sleep or when they are away; they just knock on the door and announce a “police check-up”. On opening the door, the un-suspecting residents find that these thugs are clad in police uniform and are armed. Normally, there has been no need to even shout for help since the nearest police post is often miles away from the scene. A distress call to the police station would normally yield a response such as “sorry, I am the only one at the station” or “sorry, there is no transport at the station”.
This is perhaps evidence of the near absence of law enforcement officers in Zambia, or merely low motivational levels arising from low salaries. For how else can a motor vehicle, or its accessories, be stolen from the police station unless with the knowledge of the police officers on duty. The low wage rate in the Police Service seems to be a big motivation for the police officers to get involved in vices. An increase in their salaries is not a sure remedy to in-service crimes as the practice has developed into seemingly indelible habits. It will surely take a while for them to change, but advocacy for exposure must begin now.
Criminal and sexual assault is common especially in informal settlements, where most residents have access to cheap stronger beer, which leads to reckless behavior. These areas are also notorious for drug and substance abuse. The gravity of such crimes can be measured by their widespread coverage in the daily tabloids. The Drug Enforcement Commission has set up programs aimed at abating drug and substance abuse, but there does not seem to be any victory on the horizon. The Victim Support Unit of the Zambia Police has tried to expose crimes of under-age sexual assault, and the State has enacted sentences of up to 25 five years in jail for offenders, but the evening news is not devoid of child molestation cases. In any case, the hefty jail sentence does not seem to act as a deterrent.
There are interesting phenomena emanating from the study of crimes in the urban set-up. My first instinct is to believe that people who are involved in theft and burglary are doing so to try and meet their financial demands due, largely to lack of employment opportunities in town, while those who are involved in drug and substance abuse, sexual assault, and adultery are doing so to satisfy their self. That is not the only dimension; there is another dimension of white collar crimes. Those people who are in employment steal, either to increase their earnings or to satisfy their self.
Fraud and corruption in Zambia has been widely reported to involve people who are in formal employment, civil service or private sector. In recent years, fraud and corruption have been prosecuted to the level of President, army generals, and ministers, among others. Currently, Zambia ranks 88 out of 176 countries on the World Corruption Index Ranking (a slight improvement from 2008 when the country ranked 115 out of 180). While the index is a general ranking which includes all sectors of the economy, it could also serve as a general indicator of how our societal values are perceived globally.
Councilors from the ruling party seem to have usurped the City Councils’ powers to administer and allocate land, and they do so illegally. The outcome of such actions is eventual court order for demolition of structures built on their orders. According to the Sunday Nation , “The people of Zambia have a huge task to ensure that the PF [Patriotic Front] government becomes prudent in the manner it is managing our resources… Politics of appeasement will not help this country and I should tell the PF friends that as a Zambian I am not happy to see these things happening in the PF. It is too soon for them to start accusing each other of corruption”, lamented one leader of an NGO.
Assertions that rural-urban drift is the main cause of crimes in our urban areas are difficult to justify. What I see is a conflagration of causes, rooted in people’s persona and values that a particular sector of society holds dear. For instance, the Mafia does not seem to emanate from rural Italy, but it is a culture that was developed by a secret society to meet its specific objectives. What I cannot rule out in cases of fraud and corruption is that economy and class play a big role in crime occurrence. The motivation to committing a crime may differ from person to person, but the presence of too many people in the cities and towns just provides a climate that aggravates the occurrence of social ills based on competing egos.
5 General recommendations
It is generally understood that many cities worldwide have grown organically, except for a few that have had to be planned to serve specific projects in mining, military, and or agricultural services, etc. Other towns in some countries have grown as university towns. The challenges that we currently face have to do with the current set-up of our towns and associated governance systems pertaining respective to a given nation. For Zambia to guarantee a thriving and decent urban residence, I recommend the following:
- Enact a clear policy for urban regeneration:
The deteriorating urban conditions and rising unemployment rates require a coherent and aggressive urban regeneration policy as exemplified by the U.K. approach cited in this treatise. Our City Councils should realize that just connecting electricity service lines to slum areas is not enough if sanitation, transportation, pollution, and security are not addressed as well.
- Enact a comprehensive urban transportation policy:
A comprehensive urban transportation policy, which takes on board a multi-modal transit system, should be put in place. It should also emphasize the need to promote the use of bicycles, motor bikes, scooters, and walking, among other mass-transit facilities within the urban areas. Intermodal facilities that reduce the distance travelled by commuters between the facilities should take center-stage in debates on public transport.
- Regulate the housing market:
In order to bring sanity to the housing markets, pricing cannot be left to the Real Estates Agents and property owners alone; government intervention in form of regulation is essential to ensure that the urban residents are not being abused by the Real Estates Agents and property owners.
- Ensure uncompromising enforcement of the Environmental Law:
Pollution mitigation measures are important for us to maintain healthy citizens, and this is even more important for our urban employees, most of whom do manual work. There are extra benefits that also come with reduced health budgets for both the households and the Local Authority if the residents are not falling ill frequently. The agony of having to walk through our towns for over 200 meters and not finding a dust-bin should be a thing of the past if we have to improve our sanitation in our cities. No township should be permitted to be developed in the absence of essential services.
- Ensure uncompromising enforcement of the Land Act:
The provisions contained in the Land Act are clear and categorical, and no unauthorized persons should be allowed to demarcate and sell land. At no point should politicians and their cadres be above the law of the land, in a well-governed country. Observance of the Land Act will greatly assist the Local Authorities in planning their towns and cities and to guarantee that their plans would be followed in all their development efforts. The comfort drawn by the Local Authorities would enable them to develop sustainable long-term development master plans.
- Make the citizens feel protected by the state:
The Zambia Police Service should be felt in their delivery of security services to the taxpayers who enable them to obtain their salary. It is not acceptable for the residents to leave cars for overnight parking at the police station at owner’s risk when, in fact, the police station has sufficient manpower to secure their cars. For that matter, the residents pay a daily parking fee to the police station command. The levels of trust between the police and residents have gone so low that residents normally resort to taking the law in their own hands, often to fatal ends of the suspects before police can arrive at the crime scene. We have seen suspects battered or burnt to death before the police can even reach the crime scene.
- Implement the Decentralization Policy:
Not only will this help the Local Authorities in determining and implementing the solutions that best fit their scenarios, but it will also help deter the rural - urban migration in the country. Most of the revenues that are generated from the ten provinces are channeled to Control 99 at the Ministry of Finance (MoF), from where grants to provincial administrations and other government departments have to be appropriated, with the bigger portion of those funds remaining to run the Central Government. If the Decentralization Policy were implemented, it would also encourage enterprise in the provinces and help create a platform for attracting certain investments, which are essential for job creation, to the provinces.
My research on urban economics has espoused many challenging dimensions of analysis. I have encountered microeconomic issues arising out of existence of cities, and the market forces and institutions that help shape the urban environments. In that context, I sought to demonstrate the practical aspects of location theory, urban transportation, housing markets, urban finance, crime, urban pollution, and urbanization and local government. I believe I have done so in a very elaborate and critical manner, using the experiences in Zambia, as well as the experiences on the global stage.
I have highlighted the magnitude of the urban problems through a variety of challenges that the Zambian urban dwellers are facing, while at the same time outlining how our society should change the way it does business if we have to add value to the quality of life for the multitudes of our urban residents. The beginning point is for us to change the way we govern ourselves, by putting in place rules and laws which should be respected by ALL citizens, irrespective of their status in society. Secondly, we need to ensure that law enforcement is done without discrimination, and that it should be done as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Thirdly, we need to take power back to the people by implementing the Decentralization Policy, which has been on the table for decades. In this manner, our Local Authorities would not have to blame the Central Government for failures which lie squarely in their jurisdictions.
We also need a serious cultural transformation in order to increase our productivity. Economics is not just about the optimal use of scarce resources in meeting our unlimited wants and needs, but it is very much about productivity as well. The culture of drunkenness has robbed many citizens of their valuable resources which would otherwise have been spent on their children’s, and of course their own, welfare. In Zambia, it is well-known how Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, First Republican President, had resigned in 1978 because people in the country were drinking too much beer instead of working hard to develop the nation; they had a prolonged post-colonial hangover, forgetting to work and, instead, opting to drink beer. A promise to change for the better was all that was needed for our President to rescind his decision and return to office. That promise, we have failed to keep, as we still have many public minibus drivers and their conductors operating with sachets of beer in their pockets, something that prompted then Minister of Local Government and Housing, Prof. Nkandu Luo, to ban the production of beer in cheap and affordable sachets in 2012. Not only do these drivers become ineffective whilst on duty, but they do endanger the lives of their customers on numerous occasions through careless driving.
There are many other aspects of cultural change which, for lack of adequate space, I will not discuss here, but they relate to attitudes to work, attitude to innovative transportation systems, attitudes towards crime, cleanliness, and personal hygiene; and most of all, our attitude towards planned infrastructural development. Our level of organization will only reflect in what we build, how we built, where we build, when we build, and why we build whatever we have to build. This will also affect our responsiveness to disaster management and emergency recovery. It is in the City of Lusaka where emergency response to fire has no facility to reach even half of the tallest sky-scraper. On October 15, 1997, the 20-floor Society House was gutted from top to bottom because the Fire Brigade had no capacity to fight fires in the high-rise buildings. Society House may now be under refurbishment, but the City Council has recently confirmed to a Parliamentary Accounts Committee that they still do not have capacity to fight fires in high-rise buildings. Can our cities continue to live by Nature’s Grace? The categorical answer is “not”.
We cannot be proud as a nation to have world-breaking records on poor sanitation. However, that is the case as the World Health Organization confirms the stark reality: six million people in Zambia have no access to toilets. That represents almost 50% of the national population. Yet, newspaper headlines remind us on a daily basis how our money is either being stolen or being misappropriate in the concerned ministries. Things must change, and they must change now, for a better Zambia. The people must rise up and reject the mediocre services they are receiving from the City Councils, now rather than later. This is the only sure way to ensure that the Councils are proactively planning for the cities’ well-being, instead of just waiting for instructions “from above” on what they should, and should not, implement.
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- Yohane Tembo (Author), 2014, Rapid urbanization in Zambia. The challenges facing our cities and towns, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/284524