Feature: China-funded mega dam in Zambia set to uplift people's living standards
CHINGOLA, Zambia, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Various development projects in Zambia have benefited from funding by China, a result of the long-lasting bilateral ties between the two countries.
One such project is the construction of a dam in Zambia's Masaiti district on the Copperbelt Province funded by China whose construction works are progressing well.
The construction works of the 450 million U.S. dollars Kafulafuta Dam was commissioned in October last year by President Edgar Lungu.
The multi-purpose dam will hold about 125 million cubic meters of water and benefit about 1 million people in four districts on the Copperbelt, namely, Mpongwe, Luanshya, Ndola, Masaiti and other areas.
Masaiti is located in the southeastern part of the Copperbelt. The district lies on a total area of 5,383 square kilometers and has a population of 107,221.
It is surrounded by six other districts and also shares a border with neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The people in the district have welcomed the project, saying it will go a long way in easing water problems.
Jane Kalesha, a 56-year-old resident, feels that the project has come at a right time and will immensely benefit the community.
She says the project will help farmers in the district to grow enough crops not only for consumption but for export into DRC.
Chieftainess Malembeka, one of the traditional leaders in the district, is also elated by the development.
"Uplifting the living standards of people is important in national development, the dam will bring about immense development in my Chiefdom," she says.
She is optimistic that smallscale farmers will benefit massively through irrigation system.
The district whose main economic stay is farming has a total of 18,733 smallscale farmers.
The traditional leaders further hailed the bilateral relationship between Zambia and China, which she said are bearing fruits.
"China is a best friend of Zambia since time in memorial," she said.
Bruce Zhu, a business manager with the China National Complete Engineering Corporation, the Chinese firm constructing the dam, said about 23 percent of works have so far been done, adding that everything was on schedule.
"We are on schedule and we expect to complete the works by 2020," he says.
In remarks delivered when Copperbelt Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe and other senior government officials inspected the construction works recently, the official said over 1,600 jobs have been created during the construction of the dam.
Zhu further dispelled reports that the firm was subcontracting other foreign firms instead of empowering local firms.
"We have come up with a contractor data base where we are picking contractors for various jobs," he added.
According to Zhu, four local firms have been subcontracted to work at the project.
On his part, the Zambian minister expressed satisfaction over the progress so far in the construction of the dam, adding that the government was committed to supporting Chinese firms working on various projects as it was meant to uplift the living standards of people.
Mwakalombe says a lot of people will benefit from the project once completed.
The Kafulafuta water supply system project involves the construction of a dam and other infrastructures for the supply of water to some districts of the province.
It also includes the construction of two pump stations, raw water pipelines to four treatment plants as well as the extension of the pipe network to unserviced areas and repairing of old leaking pipes.