Shopping Mall investors face resistance in Barotseland

Shopping Mall investors face resistance in Barotseland

Dear Editor,

There is a group of investors with very good intentions of putting up a multimillion dollar Shopping Mall in Mongu.

This  move has been welcomed by all the residents of Mongu. The only Problem is this beautiful idea faces is the location the investors insist on constructing this mammoth structure.

The investors in league with some Induna’s from the Barotse Royal Establishment, Area chief, Former Mayor and councilor Two (2) Local activists and hired supporters insist on building this structure on Primary School Land and their passion to do so is derived from the assertion that the School has not expanded in the last 37 years and undermines the Schools Administration or its Parents and Teachers Association  efforts and the Ministry of Education or Governments ability to expand the School which is in dire need of expansion.

 

The Investors or their agents has picked on the lack of modern infrastructure at the School and promises to invest about $20m to build the shopping Mall not only on the Schools undeveloped grounds but in front of the school and promises to build Five (5) teachers houses, some Class rooms, an ablution block and a computer Lab without elaborating how much this would equate to.

According to the investors agents the shopping Mall is expected to house five (5) Commercial Banks, a Leading Chain Store, movie theatres, a Night Club, Restaurants and leading Retail outlets and shops to let to the local Entrepreneurs and Filling Station. With this investment the Front hopes to create a total of plus 300 hundred jobs making them the leading employer in the Western Part of Zambia.

On The other hand while the Local Municipality and the Community welcome this investment which comes with promises of job creation insist that the place which is on School grounds and opposite the Central Prison is not the ideal place. After a close scrutiny and taking into consideration their intention to put up something to the magnitude of Manda Hill the community and the council feel the space also is not enough or the idea is being over exaggerated just to acquire the Land.

The council through the Mayor have not only proposed but offered Land at the proposed site of the new town which is about 3 Kilometers from the School grounds and see this investment to have a multiplier effect in that taxi and Mini bus operators will be required meaning more jobs created and residents will be forced to build near this shopping Mall which will add not only value but more people will benefit as they have to board a bus or drive to and from the new town as compared to the walking distance if Mall is placed at the School. The community who are the end users agrees with their council and sees this as an opportunity to expand Mongu town a thing the investors Front does not agree to and states that it’s not his responsibility to use his investment to expand the Town. He further accuses the council for failing to service the proposed new town site despite people buying the plots. When questioned whether it was their responsibility to improve the Schools infrastructure he points out that the School grounds are ideal for his business and that this was confirmed by a renowned real estate agent from a leading real estate company based at one of the shopping Malls in Lusaka.

These arguments of strategic development and acquiring of Imwiko Primary School Land are not new to the residents of Mongu. Some people can say they started with the placing of Shoprite on the outskirts but today the Area has developed and Shoprite is now in the Centre of the Community. Another example that can be cited is the Municipality who are in tandem with the people’s wishes story of a Bank which is renowned for building with prefab materials being compelled to build a concrete and permanent structure or take their investment elsewhere. This also proved fruitful as the Bank complied and was allowed to build on land that had lain idle in the heart of Mongu for more than Fifty (50) years.

Others brought the argument of growing the town and an example given is when a Local and Tonga by tribe Businessman passed away was the first to be buried at the new council cemetery which is the area the masses want this investment to be. The Family decided to bury their deceased in Mongu instead of taking him to his home village in Southern Province.

A group of individuals who are also opposed to the building of the Mall on School grounds took advantage of this situation and proposed that instead of making a road to the graveyard on a stretch which is only 1.5km from the Mongu-Lusaka road convinced the Council, the Provincial Administration, Roads Development Agency and BP Service station instead to build the road on a 4 km stretch and today the road has been named after the businessman.

Plots have also been allocated and the place is called by the Businessman’s name and is mushrooming with Mansions. The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) is also currently constructing fuel reservoirs in this same area. This is what the people would like to see from these investors who have threatened to take their invest elsewhere if they don’t get the School grounds sparking wild reactions from the community that these people are probably Fraudsters and has raised a lot of questions now about their ability to develop or build the shopping Mall.

The investor’s agents stubbornness to insist on School grounds has left the Council and community wondering if this Investment truly is genuine and have raised serious concerns that if the Royal Highness The Litunga can adhere to the councils plans and has even applied for a plot and awaits the Council’s approval at the full council meeting who are these investors to go against the Council and peoples wish.

The questions there for debate are:

  1. Are these genuine Investors refusing Land on Title?
  2. Should they build on School Grounds which is on Traditional Land?
  3. Should the School sale off or ask for a 30% stake or go into a PPP with Developers
  4. Should they build at the proposed new town site or
  5. The Developers take their investment elsewhere?

After a vicious campaign on a local Radio station and failure to address a well attended PTA meeting, the Investors Front in tandem with hired Local Activists have vowed to stage another meeting and are on a wild campaign saying part of the school Land actually belongs to the Royal Establishment and are collecting signatures from anyone not aware of the argument in an effort to petition the Local Municipality into submission. They have also gone to an extent of accusing the Mayor to be a traitor and anyone opposed to their proposed site of mudslinging them in the light that the investors Front was exposed to have had sold a Family plot to a Businessman instead of developing it and what guarantee is there now that he won’t do the same with the Primary School Land which he says is his major breakthrough.

 

Ikafa

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