Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has challenged those questioning the cost of the modern Lusaka City Market to visit his office and take a look at the design and Bill of Quantities (BoQ) for the project.

Recently, Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale announced that the reconstruction of the New City Market, which will have along with it a bus station and mini-hospital, would accommodate 14,000 traders and need around K90 million to be reconstructed.

Mwale explained that the new market, which is being constructed on Simon Mwewa Lane in Lusaka’s Soweto would accommodate three markets, which include the City Market itself, Munyaule Market and the Gaza Strip, which is going to be demolished.

But responding to mounting queries on the huge cost, Lusambo justified the cost of the project saying citizens should not attack Mwale but understand the intricacies of the project.

“I just want to contribute on the market and the pronunciations, which came from my colleague. First and foremost, the Minister of Local Government (Mwale) is in charge of all the markets and they are constructing a lot of markets. And the market in question – City Market, which is the subject of discussion this morning, the Minister was in order to give out the information to the public on the course of the project. And if people want to know more about the cost of the market, we have technocrats and the people who are working on these markets. The Minister is not a technocrat, he is not a designer and he is not the one who has come up with the BoQ (Bill of Quantity). The Minister is a policymaker and he has communicated the information, which has come to the table and he has verified the information and he has shared this same information with the general public because the market is a public institution, which will be used by the people of Zambia and we are spending tax payers’ money,” Lusambo said, when he called the Hot FM breakfast show, Thursday.

“So, the way the callers are coming in are at liberty to say whatever thing that they are saying, but they should not put the Minister on the spotlight as if there is something that he has done. There is nothing that the Minister has done! He has just used his office to communicate to the people of Zambia because he doesn’t want the people of Zambia to be kept in suspense. So, for me as Lusaka Province Minister, the Minister, where these markets will be constructed, I will invite the people to come to my office instead of going to the Minister [of Local Government’s] office; we will show them the information [from my office]. We will show them the BoQs, we will show them the designs of City Market because they have just picked the figure K90 million! But what type of a market are we putting up there? Is it the same market? Are we improving the features of the market? What other shops are going to be in that market? There are a lot of things that people need to understand instead of condemning and rebuking the Minister’s pronouncement.”

Lusambo argued that the components New City Market was going to be equipped with could easily justify the huge K90 million price tag.

“Let them see the architecture thing for the market, maybe it is even a cheap thing this type of market, which we want to put up for the people of Zambia. Don’t talk about the cost! First of all, you talk about the actual structure, what is it? It’s a market, but what type of a market? We have seen a lot of markets in other countries, which have cost more than the money, which we are talking about. But because in Zambia we like to politicize everything! And I can assure you that with this type of tendency, with this type of behaviour, we won’t even see the desired development, which we want to see in our country,” said Lusambo.

“We are not blaming people, that’s why we have invited the people who have a question mark to visit our offices. What we’re doing, we are not building these markets in Vincent Mwale’s house! We are building this market at a public place and all the requirements of this market, we have. So, let them come and see.”