Tobacco farmers complain of long distances to markets

With the tobacco set to officially open today, some farmers have continued expressing worry over the long distances they will have to walk to sale their crop.

Some farmers in Vubwi and Lundazi districts have complained that the situation has been worsened by the poor state of roads that connect the two districts to Chipata.

Alfred Banda of Chief Mwasemphangwe’s area says the decision by TBZ, the Tobacco Board of Zambia to allow only two floors to open will disadvantage farmers.

Mr. Banda also called on authorities to find companies that can buy tobacco from private growers.

Meanwhile, Chief Chanje says two companies have indicated to him their interest to buy tobacco from independent growers.

The traditional leader says the companies have also already announced their prices, which are very good.

He, however, could not mention the names of the two companies.

Zambia urged to become productive

The Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry EPCCI says Zambia should work on becoming a productive economy, if it is to benefit from the recent continental trade agreement.

EPCCI President, Thomas Mtonga, says while the agreement will remove the trade barriers between African countries, Zambia will not benefit if it continues being a consuming economy.

He told Breeze FM News that the chamber has always advocated for Zambia to have an opportunity to market itself outside.

Mr. Mtonga says there is currently very little trade that takes place within African countries, while those in other continents trade among themselves.

Mr. Mtonga says while the free trade agreement will come with a lot of benefits, Zambia should find a way of positioning herself in such a way that it does not become a dumping site of goods from other African countries.

He says if Zambia can start processing some of its raw materials instead of exporting them raw, more money will be coming into the country from other African countries.

Mr. Mtonga says the country should also invest in branding of local products and making them unique in order to secure a good share of the African market.

Women urged to go for cancer screening

Women in Lundazi district have been urged to go for cervical cancer screening.

Lundazi District medical director, Davy Wadula Zulu, says cervical cancer is a dangerous disease that claims over 500 lives of women in Zambia every year, but can be cured if discovered in the early stages.

Dr. Zulu explained that as a way of encouraging the majority women in the district to get screened and put on treatment, his office has put up interventions to assist those that are unable to visit health facilities on their own, to get screened.

He says among the interventions put in place are the mobile outreach screening of women in the rural parts of the district and sensitization on the importance of screening, especially those who are HIV positive.

Dr. Zulu adds that the interventions have so far proved to be effective as his office has been observing a lot of women coming through to get screened.

He has called on other non-governmental organizations to come on board and support the initiative of preventing deaths caused by cancer.

Over 2000 farmers in Chipata fail to collect inputs

The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, CSPR in Eastern Province says is it is devastated to learn that more than 2,500 farmers in Chipata district have not yet collected their farming inputs for the 2017/2018 farming season.

CSPR Provincial Coordinator Maxon Nkhoma says the failure by the government to deposit funds into the accounts of more than 2,500 farmers in Chipata district is a source of concern.

In a statement availed to Breeze FM News, Mr. Nkhoma says CSPR is worried because the reduction of poverty may not be attainable when household food security is compromised.

Mr. Nkhoma says CSPR sympathizes with individual affected farmers in Chipata district for failure by the government to give them farming inputs.

He has challenged government to explain circumstances that have led to more than 2,500 farmers in Chipata district not receiving their inputs.

Mr. Nkhoma adds that it is unreasonable and inconsiderate on part of government to fail to deposit funds into the accounts of farmers.

The CSPR Provincial Coordinator has therefore, appealed to Eastern province minister to explain to farmers if government still takes the agriculture sector seriously.

District Agriculture Coordinator, Mathews Ngulube could not be reached for comment by News time.

NAPSA reaches out to taxi and bus drivers

Bus and taxi drivers in Eastern Province have agreed to a proposal to start making contributions to NAPSA, the National Pensions Scheme Authority

This means that bus and taxi owners will not be allowed to register their vehicles with RTSA the Road Transport and Safety Agency, if they do not register their drivers with NAPSA.

This came to light during a consultative meeting held by RTSA and NAPSA yesterday in Chipata district where RTSA wanted to get the views of the drivers before signing the MoU, Memorandum of Understanding with NAPSA.

Speaking during the consultative meeting, RTSA Principle Licensing Officer Anthony Chewe said that social security for bus and taxi drivers is a law but many employers tend to ignore.

He explained that because of the informality of the transport sector in the country, most bus and taxi drivers are uncertain about their future earning and live life in fear of the day when they will no longer earn a living.

Mr. Chewe said that RTSA could not agree with NAPSA to sign the MoU without consulting the drivers on whether they were for the idea or not.

The Principle Licensing officer says that once drivers are socially secure, the drivers will start complying with traffic laws because they will know that they are socially secure and don’t have to break the law in order to make more money.

Lundazi Central MP challenged

Residents of Lundazi central constituency have complained over the area member of parliament’s performance since he was voted into office.

The residents have charged that Lawrence Nyirenda is not representing his constituency during parliament sessions, as expected.

Speaking to Breeze FM News, one of the residents Blessings Banda says it is regrettable that from the time Mr. Nyirenda was voted into office, no development has been recorded in his constituency.

Mr. Banda complained that despite the constituency having a lot of stalled projects like the construction of Lundazi- Chama road and construction of Umi primary and Umi secondary schools, Mr. Nyirenda has never been heard bringing out such issues in parliament.

He adds that it is unfortunate that the issue of Umi schools was being raised by an MP from Kaputa when Mr. Nyirenda who is a custodian of the area in question had never spoken about it since he was voted into office.

Mr. Banda expressed the need for Mr.  Nyirenda to represent the people of his constituency by pushing for development in the constituency.

And efforts to get a comment from Lundazi Constituency Member of Parliament Lawrence Nyirenda failed as his mobile phone went unanswered by News time.

Man gets five years for illegal ivory

The Chipata Magistrates Court has sentenced a man of Chief Saili’s area in Chipata district to five years imprisonment with hard labour, on one count of being found in possession of prescribed trophy.

Appearing before Magistrate Moses Mkumba Phiri yesterday for sentencing was Martin Daka.

Particulars of the offence are that Daka, on December 31st 2017, in Chipata had in his possession six pieces of ivory without certificate of ownership from the Director of National Parks and Wildlife.

Daka who denied having committed the offence told the court in his defense that the owner of the ivory, a Mr. Phiri ran away and that he was instead arrested.

In his judgement, Magistrate Phiri said the court was satisfied that the prosecution had proved its case against the convict.

He said Daka did not show remorse as he declined in saying anything in mitigation, because he was not satisfied with the court’s ruling.

Magistrate Phiri therefore, sentenced Daka to five years imprisonment with hard labour with effect from December 31st 2017.

Police intensify patrols during Easter

Police in Chipata will today start operation orders during the day and night in an effort to maintain order during the Easter holiday.

Eastern Province Police Deputy Commissioner Sharon Zulu says measures have been put in place in ensuring there is law and order during the long weekend.

Ms. Zulu says during this period, there will be motorized and foot patrols during the day and night.

She says the law will be applied to people especially motorists who have a tendency of drinking alcohol while driving.

She told Breeze FM News that the same operations will be expected to be implemented in all the districts in the province.

Police launch manhunt for armed criminals

Police in Chipata have instituted an investigation into an incident where armed criminals attacked a man of Moth area and got away with property worth 19 thousand kwacha.

Eastern Province Police Deputy Commissioner Sharon Zulu has named the complainant in the matter as Samson Zulu.

Ms. Zulu says the incident happened on Monday this week at about 22 hours at Mr. Zulu’s residence.

She says on the material day at around 22 hours, Mr. Zulu’s son was outside the yard and that he was ambushed as he was going to open the gate to enter the house.

Ms. Zulu says the criminals who were armed with a pistol and iron bars got hold of him and ordered him to knock at the door of the house.

She says in the process, Mr. Zulu opened the door, thinking that it was  his son who was knocking, but that he was surprised to see that his son was being carried by intruders, armed with a pistol and iron bars.

She adds that in fear, Mr. Zulu gave the criminals 7,000 kwacha cash and about ten cell phones that were in the house, after they demanded money from him.

Ms. Zulu says that after being given the money and cell phones, the criminals locked all the family members in one room.

She explained that after sometime, the criminals left, stating that the complainant managed to break the door from the room where they were held captive and discovered that his pistol and a laptop were stolen.

Retirees ask President Lungu to assist them get terminal benefits

The Public Service Retirees Association of Zambia is appealing to government to pay retirees who have not been paid for twenty years now.

Association Provincial Chairperson Evans Malama says that only 96 out of about 2,000 retirees have been paid national wide.

Mr. Malama told Breeze FM News that some of the retirees have died due to depression and that those who are still living have continued to suffer.

He says with the high cost of living, retirees have been greatly affected as they are unable to put food on the table.

Mr. Malama explains that from the time the court made a judgement that retirees should be paid on December 23rd 2011, the previous and the current governments have not been serious in handling their plight.

Mr. Malama has therefore, appealed to President Edgar Lungu to facilitate the process of paying retirees and ensure that the payment is made by the end of June this year.