The Eastern Province Labour Office says the situation on the impact of COVID-19 in the labour market is changing in the province. This follows the announcement by President Edgar Lungu that the hospitality industry should operate normally for domestic tourists while adhering to COVID-19 measures. And in Livingstone of Southern Province, by yesterday, Victoria Falls had recorded about 7,000 local people who went to see the Victoria Falls. Provincial Labour Officer Francis Shabani says in Eastern Province, some lodge facilities such as those in Chipata are slowly opening up because people are now using their facilities such as hosting conferences. Mr. Shabani says that for almost three months, the lodge facilities haven’t been operating, a situation that affected their income and that some of their employees have been laid off. He however, says employers should follow the due process of the law when reducing workers or sending them on forced leave.
The 2019/2020 Crop Forecast Production shows that only three districts in Eastern Province have produced Burley tobacco. Chipata district is on top with a total of 1,522 metric tonnes of Burley tobacco. Lundazi district is ranked second with a production of 944 metric tonnes while Mambwe is on the third position with a total of 34 metric tonnes of Burley tobacco. On Virginia tobacco, Lundazi district is on top with a total of 862 metric tonnes, followed by Chadiza on the second position with a total of 789 metric tonnes. Chipata district is on the third position producing a total of 765 metric tonnes while the least district is Katete with a total of 74 metric tonnes of Virginia tobacco. This is according to the Eastern Province 2019/2020 Season Crop Forecast Production figures seen by Breeze FM News.
A Civic leader in Chasefu district has expressed concern towards reports that DMMU, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit were distributing mealie-meal to businessmen at the expense of vulnerable people in need of relief food in the area.
Speaking to Breeze FM News in a telephone interview, Kajilime ward Councilor David Mthika says he was disturbed with reports that DMMU was giving relief mealie-meal to business owners at Emusa sub center, while the vulnerable people who were registered as beneficiaries of the relief package have not been given.
He says if at all, reports of the empowerment program by DMMU are true, there is need for DMMU to consider equal distribution of the relief mealie meal to all businessmen and not selective distribution.
Mr. Mthika added that he personally visited the trading area and discovered that the relief mealie meal was been sold and the traders confirmed having received the commodity from DMMU.
Meanwhile DMMU National Coordinator Chanda Kabwe says his office is not aware of what is happening in Chasefu and therefore, whatever is happening is pure theft of public property.
He says DMMU has not empowered any business owners in Chasefu district, adding that anyone selling food that is being distributed under relief food, risk being prosecuted.
Mr. Kabwe says he is positive that the law enforcers in the province will follow up the matter and ensure everyone involved is dealt with accordingly.
Some residents in Kajilime ward of Chasefu district have expressed worry over alleged illegal gold mining activities that have continued taking place in the area amidst Covid 19.
One of the residents, who opted to remain unknown, notes that there has been an increase in the number of foreign visitors, who have been seen conducting mining activities at Zovuluma hill.
The resident, who is also working for one of the miners, says the residents have engaged the area councilor to inform relevant authorities.
And when contacted for a comment, Kajilime ward councilor David Mthika says he was recently informed that there are people who are reportedly coming from Lusaka and are conducting gold mining activities at Zovuluma without following the proper laid down Covid 19 health guidelines.
He says the mining activities happening at Zovuluma hill have raised concern among members of the public in the ward especially that most people conducting mining activities are coming from Lusaka, which has the second highest number of Covid 19 cases after Nakonde.
He has called on government to intervene adding that the concerns by the residents are true and need urgent attention.
Some drivers in Chipata have expressed concern over the stalled construction works of Kalindawalo Road. The Taxi Drivers told Breeze FM News that the road is important for their business and are now wondering why its construction has stopped. A check by Breeze FM News found that the road has only been improved to bituminous standard, on a stretch between the Chipata Golf Course and Magazine Compound. The road has been under construction for more than two years now. But Chipata Mayor Sinoya Mwale has attributed the delay in construction of Kalindawalo Road to logistical issues. Mr Mwale says Sable Construction Company, who has been working on the road, was partially funded for the work that has been done so far. He assured the drivers that works will resume as soon as logistics are made available.
Chief Mphamba of the Tumbuka speaking people of Lundazi district says the implementation of the Mphamba water supply extension project will reduce possible outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
Speaking to Breeze FM News, the traditional leader notes that for a long time now people in his chiefdom were sharing water sources with domestic animals, as they entirely depended on water from shallow wells.
The traditional leader however, called on the water utility company to extend the water supply project to higher laying villages in the chiefdom.
He explained that currently the only people that are able to benefit from the project are those situated in low laying places.
Meanwhile Eastern Water and Sanitation Company Managing Director Aaron Mulinda says the project is targeting about three hundred customers.
He says that so far, the first phase of the project, which involves the installation of 2.2 kilometer water pipes and other associated fittings has been completed.
Mr. Mulinda says the company is now connecting new customers in the area and that so far 8 households have been connected