Hostel construction squatters face displacement

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LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes

@SunZambian        

WORKERS of some companies that are building the new University of Zambia (UNZA) hostels in Lusaka and their families will be rendered homeless once they are removed from their makeshift homes on the side of Nangwenya road.

The workers are living on the shoulder of the road, which has been earmarked for a paved walkway and drainage.

In an interview with the Sun, one of the affected workers, who asked not to be identified, said their employer was aware that they needed to move out of the area to pave way for the construction works.

The source said he and other workers had been told the contractor would not provide them with shelter once they left the roadside because the company did not have any other place where to take them.

Scores of families have been living in squalid conditions without any decent toilets on the side of the road raising fears of outbreaks of water-borne diseases like cholera.

He said the workers were aware that the place was not safe and that the sanitary facilities were poor.

“The boss is aware of the main challenges that we are facing in this area we are living and the construction which is taking place. But they have made it clear they have nowhere to take us, which means we have to find our own homes to rent nearby,” he said. 

“You know the kind of salaries the Chinese employees give unskilled workers. They get paid between K500 and K700 and skilled workers K1,000. It means we will just be struggling because some of us our wives and kids are with us here and with this kind of salary you cannot give your family a decent life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Andrich Construction Company is worried that the families may hamper the construction if the walkway and drainage if they were not shifted elsewhere.

The company’s site engineer Richard Mukula said the firm had been sub-contracted by Afcon to build a paved footpath and a drainage, among others, along Nangwenya road and that he had challenges with families who lived along the road.

Mr Mukula said the sub-contractor had engaged Afcon in the matter to see how best the issue could be resolved as soon as possible to allow the company to construct the drainage and footpath properly.  

He said it was dangerous to work with children around the area.

“We dig very deep drainages and we do not want the children to fall in the drainage and break their legs. Those people must be removed. We work with machines; it’s not safe for them,” Mr Mukula said

“We have engaged our main contractor, Afcon, to come to our aid and see how they can help us to ensure that the families of the other construction companies are removed. It’s not safe,” he said.

Mr Mukula said his company had spoken to parents a number of times to stop their children from playing in the drainages.

“You find the children burying the drainages we dig and we have to start digging again,” he said.

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