from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – FIVE years after a mysterious fire gutted it down, Zambia’s biggest market is set to reopen.
The imminent reopening of the Lusaka City Market follows a rehabilitation that was prioritised by the new government, led by the United Party for National Development (UPND), in power since 2021.
This is no ordinary breakthrough.
An unexplained fire razed the market to the ground. The government of that time blamed it on activists of the then-opposition UPND, allegedly in protest of the detention of its leader, Hakainde Hichilema.
He was detained from April to August of 2017 on treason charges.
Hichilema is now the president of the country, its seventh head of state. His predecessor, Edgar Lungu, at the time of the inferno, declared a state of emergency. This incurred the wrath of the opposition and critics who slammed him as being dictatorial.
The burning of the market affected thousands of traders, sparking a street vending crisis.
They have since been trading in the streets without access to sanitation and quality and safe drinking water.
“These are thousands of marketers who depend on selling their merchandise to make ends meet,” said Ruth Dante, the UPND Media Director.
Most of these marketers are women, hence Dante welcomed the reopening considering the women relied on trade to sustain their families.
“This is an indicator that government recognizes the hard work that women put in to feed their families,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Simon Mwewa Lane Market also in the capital Lusaka is also expected to be operational soon.
It will have more than 4 000 trading places, again tackling street vending and related water borne diseases.
“The New Dawn (UPND) attaches great importance to public health,” Dante said.
The government has launched the Marketers Booster Loans Empowerment Programme, which is expected to benefit over 25 000 marketers in the Southern African country.
– CAJ News