Irate Kasanda Market traders in Kabwe on Monday stormed the Civic Centre demanding an explanation from the Local Authority over the presence of Chinese nationals who were seen taking measurements of the market.
The situation was worsened by a story that went round on the same day that the market would be demolished to pave way for Chinese investment.
One of the traders, Flaviour Shabani, expressed disappointment with the council management for sending the Chinese to carry out works without informing them of this development.
“When these foreign nationals came to our market no one had any information why they were there. I went to ask our market leaders who also expressed ignorance. We are in this mess today because of your failure to communicate to us,” Shabani said.
And another trader, Kennedy Mvula, said he had spent huge sums of money to set up a stall and plans to demolish the market was not welcome.
“We were given that market by the late President Fredrick Chiluba. We cleared the land and put up shops there. How can the council today be talking of demolishing the market? If you are insisting on demolishing the market, then give us back the money we spent so that we engage in other businesses. Is this how you shall be trampling on our rights just because we are makerteers?” asked the visibly annoyed Mvula.
And in response, Kabwe Town Clerk Ronald Daka said the Chinese nationals that were seen mapping the market were in fact a team of technocrats engaged by government to upgrade the market into a modern one.
Daka said the government had contracted a loan which would be directed towards the construction of modern markets.
“This is a national programme and Kabwe will receive K30 million to upgrade Kasanda Market. There is no need to be apprehensive. Those Chinese you saw were collecting data which will help us to proceed with the project. Already we know based on that data that 1,950 traders will be affected in phase one of the construction stage. But I can assure you that government won’t leave anyone in the cold,” Daka said.
And the Town clerk expressed disappointment at marketeers who rushed to the media instead of engaging his office when they saw Chinese nationals collecting data.
“I was shocked to hear the story on radio that the market will be demolished. How can people rush to report to the media without getting information from us? This is how as Kabwe residents we shall end up missing out on development. Other towns have this programme also but they are not making noise the way we are doing. What we should have been doing today is talking about how we shall handle the close to 2,000 traders that will be affected. But on that one since you have just ambushed me and I am yet to send a report on the data collected to higher offices; allow me to give you that information later when these processes have been exhausted,” said Daka.