LUSAKA Mayor Miles Sampa says the Lusaka City Council (LCC) is not ready to fight the deadly COVID-19.

And Sampa has clarified that bars will be expected to operate like liquor stores by not allowing customers to drink within the bar.

Speaking on Hot FM’s Breakfast Show, Thursday, Sampa cautioned that the Council was not ready to fight and successfully contain the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic because it was not anticipated.

“We are not ready because we did not plan; we did not know the course to come. Yesterday, (Wednesday), we had a meeting at the Council, we don’t even have a budget to manage this predicament! It is unprecedented! It never happened in Zambia or anywhere in the world. So, we are not ready, but we will be managing the situation hour-by-hour,” Sampa said.

“We are in charge of bus stations; we moved the international buses, cross-border buses, to a depot towards Chilanga Dry Port and we are aware, because of the lock-down in South Africa, something like 12 buses are on the way into Lusaka to beat the deadline. So, we have been there setting up quarantine places; talking to lodges there; and we are setting up semi-dormitories so that we can hold some of these buses that are from high-risk countries for at least 14 days and put them in forced quarantine. So, we are on top of things at least from the bus station point of view, for the buses driving into Zambia from other countries. I was telling some operators that if this disease comes into Lusaka, God forbid full-blown, it will just wipe out a lot of people and companies will have no way to make money going forward,” Sampa warned.

He urged companies in Lusaka to help by donating anything that may help in the fight against the Coronavirus outbreak.

“A few companies have come forward, I’d like to thank the likes of Liquid Telecom, they gave us K50,000 yesterday (Wednesday) to purchase the foot operating hand washing because the one with the tap, some claim the tap itself may have germs or viruses when you open and close by different people. So, Afritank has come up with this innovation where you press your left foot, soap comes out on your right foot, water comes out. So, we have purchased 30 of those that we will put in Lusaka markets and bus stops. We are highly accountable,” he added.

“We have reached out to commercial banks, some of them are still talking to their boards and they’re yet to come back. We are reaching out across the globe for help. As far as the likes of the Bill Gates Foundation, somebody reached out to me last night. So, we are talking all over, we have to extend our hands to get the help we need for the people of Lusaka; without the money, we cannot help them.”

And Sampa clarified that bars were expected to operate like liquor stores by not allowing customers to drink within the bar’s premises.

“We have been talking about this in the last couple of weeks and I think yesterday (Wednesday), it was made very clear. So, what it is is that, bars are closed starting the deadline of today. What will happen is that they will be no meeting in one place. Initially, the bottle openers will need to be put away; you will not need to open your beer in a bar, but people can come and buy. So, no congregating, all the bars will be closed so no drinking anywhere else other than home; it means that the bars have become liquor stores. So, you sell takeaways, but you can’t drink within,” explained Sampa.