|Part of the Kafulafuta river|
By Paul Shalala in Masaiti
Feasibility studies for the US$450 million Kafulafuta Dam which is expected to benefit over 16,000 in Luanshya, Masaiti and Ndola Districts have commenced.
The construction of the Kafulafuta Dam in Masaiti District, which is funded by China, is among three huge capital projects which President Edgar Lungu announced last year as part of his government’s drive to create 10,000 jobs on the Copperbelt.
The other two are the US$492 million Copperbelt 400 (C400) township road project and the US$397 million Greenfields International Airport in Ndola.
Tropical Environmental Management, a company which has been contracted by the Ndola-based Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company, has commenced its environmental impact assessment at the proposed sites in Ibenga area of Masaiti.
“We have already selected three sites where there is potential for a dam. We will soon commence our examination of soil samples, air and water so we can choose the best site. We will recommend the place which has minimal impact on people,” said John Simumba, Tropical Environmental Management’s Managing Director.
His team of three experts includes those who will look at the relocation of dozens of families who live just a few meters away from the Kafulafuta river.
The firm has 65 days in which it is to complete its environmental impact assessment which it is supposed to hand over to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).
Yesterday, the firm held a well attended scoping meeting in Ibenga which was attended by hundreds of residents, government officials and traditional leaders.
And Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company Managing Director Athanasius Mwaba disclosed during the meeting that the Kafulafuta Dam will increase the firm’s supply of clean running water to over 80,000 households in the three districts where the utility provides water.
“This dam will help us increase our water supply in the three districts. It will have a capacity of 125 million cubic meters of water which will supply Ndola, Luanshya and Masaiti,” said Mr Mwaba.
He also announced that still under the Kafubu Sustainable Water and Sanitation Improvement project, the utility will also construct another dam across the Mpongwe river to provide the first ever clean running water in Mpongwe District.
During the meeting, several residents who live near the Kafulafuta river expressed worry about compensation.
Others said they were not sure whether to start cultivating their fields or not due to the impending displacements.
“My complaint is about basic social amenities where you will relocate us to. Will we find roads, schools, hospitals and other facilities?” asked Evaristo Ngowani, a blind old man who has spent years at the government run Masaiti Blind Center which is 600 meters away from the stream.
Another resident Roydah Musonda had this concern: “Some of us have built houses, planted trees and spent money at our farms. Will we receive compensation for all these investments?”
But Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela assured the residents that the project is aimed at increasing their access to clean running water and no one will suffer.
“Whoever will be relocated will be compensated. We do not want our people to be affected as if they are second class citizens,” said Reverend Sikwela.
Meanwhile Chieftainess Malembeka, whose chiefdom will host part of the dam, welcomed the development but urged Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company to ensure that locals are prioritised in jobs which will be created.
Her sentiments were also echoed by Senior Chief Mushili’s Administrative Secretary Evaristo Kaluba who urged government officials to fulfil all the promises they were making to Masaiti residents over the dam.