A suspected Chinese-run cemetery in Chongwe district’s Silverest area has sparked confusion among residents.

Those spoken to by News Diggers! have complained that the cemetery, if allowed to go ahead, will pollute the water table since the residential area is not connected to Lusaka’s water reticulation system, but to individual drilled boreholes.

They revealed that the named Chinese contractors have already started clearing the ground for the said cemetery.

“[It is] after Banyane filling station, but before you get to Silverest School, there is a bus station there known as Willie Nsanda New Station although now it appears to be a mushrooming market. Just around that area. They have cleared the ground and put some poles. I approached them yesterday and today [and] I called the Chinese man who was on the site who pretended not to know English, but when I called him he came and I used English. When I started asking him what is being constructed he started saying; ‘no me [not] know English,’ you know how Chinese pretend. Then I asked the Africans who were there [and] they said; ‘we are constructing a cemetery for the Chinese,’ but, of course, they used local language and said; ‘timanga manda yama Chinese’,” one of the residents said.

“I then called Honourable Vincent Mwale (Local Government Minister) and he expressed ignorance about it. I then tried calling Honourable Japhet Mwakalombe [Chongwe] area MP who hasn’t been picking up my calls. Then I remembered that my immediate member is Gender Minister Honourable Elizabeth Phiri. I called her and she also says she is not aware, but has just heard that but promised that she will call Japhet Mwakalombe of which she did. She got back to me and said; ‘Japhet Mwakalombe has heard although he is also not fully aware.”

Another resident wondered whether the Chinese had applied to change the usage of the land.

“There is this place which is part of the Liempe farms for the University of Zambia within Silverest area [where] these Chinese guys are establishing some kind of exclusive cemetery for the Chinese. So, our worry is that there is not even that poster you know when you are changing land use [because] that was a farm [and] so from agriculture to another use, there must be a poster asking people to make comments to the council or to the planning authority. That is not there, but the works have already started. And the major concern also is that [houses] around Silverest are not connected to Lusaka Water and Sewerage [Company]. So, we have no sewer pipes, we have no…all of us are depending on boreholes. So, that thing is going to contaminate the water table,” the resident complained.

But when contacted, Chongwe Council Chairperson Geoffrey Chuumbwe said although he has heard rumours about the Chinese cemetery, he could not confirm them.

“I have heard rumours, but so far, I don’t have any documentation to confirm that. And for me, it will be very difficult to confirm or to say anything because so far, nothing has come to my attention. Once I have gotten information, I will let you know. As up to today, I am not aware [of anything like that],” said Chuumbwe in a separate interview.