Acting President Inonge Wina has learnt that the construction of Simon Mwewa Market, situated opposite the famous Simoson Building in Lusaka, will not be completed within schedule.

And Vice-President Wina has asked the project engineers, comprised of a task force from the Zambia Army and the Zambia National Service (ZNS), to accelerate the works and complete the works before the onset of the rainy season in October.

Briefing Vice-President Wina during her tour of the markets under construction at City Market and Soweto, project site Engineer Mabvuto Lungu said the works were progressing well.

“The works on site have been progressing well. The construction team has been able to move from the sub-structure to the super structure and will continue to have progressive developments, according to the way the works have been unfolding. The sub-structure is almost complete. The coming stages will be concurrent works. We will move faster as more materials have been delivered on site,” Lungu said.

In response to the updates, however, Vice-President Wina expressed concern that a lot of time had been spent on drilling the rocks, hence delaying the works.

“We do realise that the beginnings are always slow, but we are extremely concerned at the slow pace. Although we are saying you have been progressing very well, yes, there is definitely some progress, but we feel that…I think this progress should be accelerated. I know that there was a lot of time spent on rock drilling and blustering because of the nature of this area, but I feel that once these initial works have been completed, we should see an accelerated pace at which you are taking this job. And, luckily, I think we have been receiving some funding from the Ministry of Finance for us to complete these works. So, my interest now is to know when we expect the completion date and when we expect the marketeers to move in. I think these are the issues, which I have really come to find out because we are very concerned,” Vice-President Wina said.

And in response to Vice-President Wina’s question, Zambia Army site director of engineers Lt Buumba Ziele said the project would not be completed within the scheduled time of August 31, citing the delays to some engineering designs.

“Your Excellency, the Acting President, we have heard your concern about the slow pace at which the project is being undertaken, however, your Excellency, we have alluded to the fact that we had a challenge on rock blasting and drilling in the initial stages. This has been overcome and now with the DMMU supporting us with the surge of materials, which they are delivering as and when it is required, we will make sure that [we] accelerate and move according to the programme, the way it has been designed,” Lt Ziele said.

He requested that the completion deadline be extended a bit longer in order to catch up on the lost time.

“But, however, there are certain unforeseen challenges. So, we may not commit to say that we are going to complete on this particular date, but our scheduled date of completion is supposed to have been 31st of August, but we have had some delays. We lost about two months, meaning to say that, your Excellency, even the completion date has to be shifted slightly longer than we expected. Otherwise, it is not the problem of DMMU or the problem of the task force that is Zambia Army and ZNS, it is just the nature of engineering designs and the way things went on. Otherwise, we will ensure that we try to work hard and beat the timings of completion. That is all I can assure you, your Excellency,” Lt Ziele said.

And in acknowledging the concerns raised, the acting President urged the task force to accelerate the works so that marketeers, including those that had gone back in the streets, could have decent trading places.

“That is encouraging to hear, and definitely, we look forward to the completion of this project because our people have suffered enough out there [and] now they have gone back on the streets because they have been waiting for this structure. So, we will take your assurance for granted and that the completion date may not be according to what you had been given, but we hope we will not go as far as the rainy season so that marketeers come back in better trading environments,” said Vice-President Wina.