Solwezi council bemoans public pressure
Solwezi, August 6, 2014, ZANIS– Solwezi municipal council says it is under mounting public pressure to invest more in social infrastructure development but that it is limited by resources.
Solwezi Town Clerk Ronald Daka has confirmed this to ZANIS in Solwezi.
Mr Daka said the council will not attend to scattered needs of development as demanded by members of the public because it wants to put money in projects that will add value to the municipality.
The statement by the town clerk comes after police in riot gear were urgently deployed at the civic centre yesterday morning to stop members of the public and some workers from protesting.
North Western deputy commissioner of police Michael Nkaka said police were deployed at the civic centre early in the morning to ensure public peace, but were later withdrawn around 11.00 hours.
ZANIS reports that a group of residents and workers wanted to protest against council management over poor service delivery and failure to pay workers long service bonuses.
The protester were angered after learning that First Quantum Minerals Limited had paid Solwezi council K6 million in land rates but that instead management including the town clerk, the mayor and the provincial local government officer decided to take a trip to South Africa using the same money.
The town clerk confirmed that there were plans by some people to force their way into his office and take away his privileges including grabbing keys for his official vehicle.
Mr Daka confirmed that the council had received K6 million from FQML and that a trip was taken to South Africa.
The Town Clerk however said the trip was necessary as it concerned meeting representatives of Heriot property developers concerning an agreement over compensations for show grounds tenants were the South African investor intends to build a shopping mall and a three star hotel.
“As a result of the trip we have reached a level where the 125 tenants who own shops at the show grounds will receive their compensation as the property developer has already paid the money to his lawyers,” Mr Daka said.
He denied accusations that the council is not investing in social infrastructure and failing to address the welfare of workers adequately.
The town clerk accused those who are trying to protest against the council of acting out of lack of information about how best the council is utilizing its resources, including the Constituency Development Funds (CDF).
He explained that the council had a bill of K7,574,000 owed to retirees and long service bonuses and that it has reduced retirees’ benefits from K3.5 million in January this year to K2.2 million.
He said from the same K6 million received from FQML the council is also paying another K1 million to clear retirees benefits.
He said the council and is tendering for road works to upgrade a 1.4 kilometre Kyakwankaka gravel road to bituminous standard to reduce congestion on Independence avenue.
The council is also rehabilitating a total of 400 kilometers gravel roads connecting senior Mukumbi, senior chief Kalilele and chief Mujimanzonvu.
He said the council also received 70 new officers employed by the local government commission whom the local authority is paying from its revenues and is not in arrears with monthly salaries.
“All this money is coming from the money received from FQML this quarter and we are yet to receive the land rates charges from Barrick Lumwana,” he said.
He added that the council is also investing K3.8 million to construct a modern town office in Lumwana area were government is establishing a multi-facility economic zone.