Can Kitwe Cope With Demand for Burial Sites?

Richard Katebe - Kitweonline

Richard Katebe – Kitweonline

Mining and auxiliary industrial activity has expanded in Kitwe in the recent ten years after privatization of the mines. More and more areas around Kitwe have been opened up for mining.

This has, in turn, triggered an inflow of people searching for employment and business opportunities in Kitwe. Prime land, within a radius of 20km, is consequently in great demand for housing and industrial property development.

Mining development has gained momentum at the same time. Mopani Copper Mines have revitalized the Mindola Mine. They also began an ambitious project to sink a new shaft South of Wusakile Township. This is now fully functional. On the other side of town, around Garneton,  Chambeshi Mines plc. were prospecting near Buildlect farms. This has restricted the amount of land available for other developments. The gloomy picture of the effects of HIV and AIDS related deaths stemming from the early 1990’s, when the entire country could not cope with the HIV and AIDS pandemic, has caused land in major cemeteries around Kitwe and other Zambian Cities to be exhausted within a short period of time. By around 1995 the main cemetery in Kitwe along the Chingola- Kitwe dual carriage road was nearly exhausted.

Mrs. Sampa, the Kitwe City Council Public Relations Manager, informed this writer that first and foremost, Chingola Road Cemetery is officially closed and is gazetted as such. The burials that were still taking place at Chingola road Cemetery were on encroached land designated for industrial activity. There was still some land in Chingola Cemetery which the council had reserved for Muslims who pre-paid for it.

Recently, there was an outcry from Zambians who protested to the council through their counselors and urged the council to grab the burial land reserved for Muslims and give it to Zambians to bury their loved ones. A common belief among Kitwe residents is that all Muslims are West Africans and therefore being foreigners, they cannot deprive Zambian citizens of the land for burial.

Meanwhile, new property developers were slowly coming in to take up some prime land to build up other commercial structures in designated areas.

While all these developments have continued to take place, does Kitwe City council have enough land to put to rest their loved ones?

ZCCM has surrendered Chamboli Cemetery to Kitwe City Council. Mrs. Sampa intimated that there was still enough land for graves at Chamboli for some more years to come. There is land available to extend the Graveyard at Chamboli, to the south of Luangwa Township.

The public Relations Manager also told this writer that there was another Cemetery that was opened up to the North of Chimwemwe, at Nakayombo farming area.

Mrs. Sampa acknowledges that there were three challenges facing people who were burying their dead at Nakayombo. The first major challenge was transport. Kitwe residents were complaining that the place was too far from the Kitwe Central Hospital Mortuary. The second Major Challenge was that some white Farmers who have long settled at Nakayombo are believed to be threatening to shoot mourners who were preparing graves at Nakayombo, claiming that most of the area there was their farm land.

The council has asked affected persons to come forward with evidence of harassment to which none have responded so far.

The third major challenge was that people were complaining that the land at Nakayombo was rocky, making it difficult for people to dig up the graves. The City council has bought a bull dozer to dig up graves for people in that area in order to mitigate the situation.

According to Mrs. Sampa, Kitwe City council has enough land to open up more burial sites and be able to cope with deaths in Kitwe. The slow completion of the bridge at Mufuchani was delaying the expansion of the city of Kitwe towards the eastern banks of the Kafue River. Some good hectares of land have been reserved for grave sites across the Kafue River.

Mrs. Sampa intimated that the Kitwe City Council had enough land across the Kafue River to build a modern City twice the size of the current old City of Kitwe. The new City has already been planned and it is on the drawing board.

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