Residents of Kapoche constituency in Sinda District have complained that their local area member of parliament Charles Banda has failed to help upgrade the Chingombe Bridge, which has been cited as a health and safety risk.

And Kapoche constituency PF secretary Stephen Tembo says that the bridge is now a “death trap”, but that there is very little the ruling party can do at the moment given the huge resources required to rehabilitate the bridge.

Commenting on the stated of Chingombe Bridge, community member, Timothy Mwale, complained that Tembo and area member of parliament Charles Banda had failed to consider the plight of constituents in the area.

Mwale, who was accompanied by about 40 young men, questioned government’s seriousness in revamping rundown infrastructure in the area.

“The Councillor stays in Nyanje Village just a kilometre from here. But to tell you the truth, he doesn’t know this bridge, the MP is always lying and he doesn’t use this route! So, in short, Mr reporter is that, here, we don’t have an MP; we don’t have the Councillor, they all died! We can’t say they are sick because when one is sick, you are able to see them, but in this case these leaders are nowhere to be seen! That is why we say they are dead! We even regret why we chose such leaders who have no heart for the people,” Mwale complained.

He explained that the bridge, which connected a few villages to Chingombe Primary School remained a threat, especially during the rainy season.

“We will not allow a situation to lose our children at the expense of waiting for government! It has failed, that is why we organised our oxcarts to ferry stones and we organized some cement from somewhere to ensure we do what we can, but in due time it is ideal that we have a concrete bridge,” said Mwale.

And local Catholic priest Francis Banda also complained that the men who were working on the bridge were hostile to pedestrians because they were charging K5 for anybody wanting to cross the bridge.

“I first appreciate the initiative done by men working on the Chingombe Bridge. But I got concerned when they charge everyone crossing there such that even a patient going to the hospital will be stopped! Others left their patients going in the village to scout for a coin to cross over. I realise we find money different, but for them to do like that I think it’s not okay and its inhuman! As the Bible says, ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’,” said Fr Banda.

But Tembo, who is also the area councilor for the ward, explained that he and Banda, who is also Tourism Minister, were doing their best to finish various projects.

He lamented that it was unfortunate that people did not understand the anguish which dilapidated infrastructure was causing the PF.

“I am very much aware about the problem which is on that bridge. Truly, it’s a death trap, but what communities should know is that we are not happy, we don’t rejoice when things don’t happen. It pains us when we see development delayed because we see government being criticized and insulted just because people don’t understand the logic of the government. We can’t be leaders who just sit and eat; we know what we were elected for and we are very much committed all of us in the PF government circles,” Tembo said.

He conceded that Chingombe Bridge needed serious attention, but its rehabilitation involved huge resources.

“We understand them on whatever they can say, but the truth which I want to tell you is that the work on the bridge is quite big to the level where by CDF (Constituency Development Fund) can’t do anything! When Council saw that CDF can’t work, they contacted RDA (Road Development Agency), which came to survey such that as at now all we wait for is the reduction of rains for all pending projects to start. We are not asleep, we are awake,” said Tembo.