Capital projects in Mpika abandoned for no-funding

Mpika Grade 5 girls learning to use the tablets
Mpika Grade 5 girls learning to use the tablets

A contractor engaged to construct Kapamba, Kopa and Chewe Shimfwamba Day Secondary Schools in three Chiefdoms in Mpika district has abandoned
the project.

The contract was awarded to Heros Construction Company in August, 2011 by the then MMD government and was expected to be handed over to government in December, 2013, but is behind the agreed timeframe.

This came to light when Permanent Secretary for Muchinga Province,   Bwalya Ng’andu, who was accompanied by the Provincial Education Officer, Jobbicks Kalumba  during a familiarisation tour of Mpika district.

The three day schools, whose infrastructures such classrooms, libraries, tuck shops, laboratories and teachers’ houses have reached different  levels will be turned into white elephants if
government will not consider allocating more resources to complete the four projects.

Provincial Education Officer for Muchinga, Jobbicks  Kalumba, told the PS that the total cost for each project varies but on average was K18,350 but  inconsistent funding from the  Ministry of
Education has frustrated the contractor.

Mr Kalumba feared that if the Ministry of Education will not come to the rescue of the abandoned capital projects which his office had less control over, it will create a serious effect on pupils’ enrolment especially the grade ten classes looking at the pace at which Mpika
district population is growing and appealed to the ministry to look into the matter urgently.

He added that there are four similar day secondary schools under construction in Mpika district in different chiefdoms namely; Luchembe, Kopa, Mpepo and Chikwanda, adding that the challenges that the contractor was facing were similar.

The PEO highlighted the effects of not having the four schools completed saying it will work against the PF manifesto on education to phase out basic schools and reintroduce the secondary and primary schools separately.

And Muchinga Permanent Secretary, Bwalya Ng’andu, said government cannot afford to lose both the infrastructure and money at the level the projects have reached and called the Ministry of Education to look into the issues critically.

Dr Ng’andu promised to make follow-ups with the Ministry of Education.

And both Senior chief Kopa and chief Luchembe expressed similar worries over the abandoned secondary schools in their chiefdoms.

The two chiefs, who made calls on separate incidences when the PS paid a courtesy call on them, said pupils are walking long distances to school which has resulted in the increase in school dropouts.

Senior chief Kopa added that it is becoming difficult to fight early marriages as parents are posing a challenge to the traditional leaders to push for a secondary schools near the people.

Efforts to get a comment from the Heros Construction company Director, Henry Bwalya proved futile as his mobile phone went un answered.