PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has launched the first phase of the US$320 million housing project targeting to construct 12,000 housing units for security personnel under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The launch of the first phase is set to see the construction of 2,350 housing units with an overall bid to cushion the housing deficit affecting staff.
The President said this at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of some of the houses at Chelstone police camp in Lusaka yesterday. The Chelstone site would have 48 houses.
The housing units would be occupied by officers from the Zambia Police Service, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), the Immigration Department and the Zambia Prisons Service.
Mr Lungu noted that the project was another manifestation of the Government’s efforts aimed at resolving one of the many challenges faced by officers in the security services.
“For doubting Thomases, I wish to resound my Government’s resolve to addressing the long standing challenges faced by our institutions and delivering the PF’s promise of providing decent housing for our men and women in uniform,” he said.
He said that security officers needed decent housing because they were constantly at the frontline in protecting the nation and the community.
He noted that inadequate housing was not a challenge for security officers alone, but for many Zambians across the country but that his administration was ready to address the problem and improve the welfare of families.
“In this respect, my Government is aware that security is key to the foundation of any sustainable development. Without security, there can be no sustainable development,” he said.
“Going forward, my Government is keenly investing in security institutions to empower them so that they can competently deal with security challenges now and in the future”.
Mr Lungu noted that adequate investment in the security institutions was inevitable for a smart Zambia as they contributed to the country’s peace, which made Zambia one of the most attractive investment destinations in the region and beyond.
He said the Government was providing the housing units at a great cost and urged the officers to ensure they protected the property from vandalism.
The President also warned the contractor against delay and shoddy works in the implementation of the project.
Home Affairs Minister, Davies Mwila said some of the districts that would benefit from the housing units were Itezhi-tezhi, Kitwe, Kabwe, Luano, Mufulira, Mkushi and Matumbo.
Mr Mwila said of the 2,350 units, 677 would be for the Prisons Service, 117 for the Immigration, 102 for the DEC and the remaining 1,394 would be for police officers.
He said the Government had demonstrated commitment to ensure that officers under the security wings had decent housing.
AVIC International vice-president Gong Jiayan assured the Head of State that his company would implement the project to the expectations of Government of delivering quality works within the agreed time frame.
Mr Gong said the contract was another demonstration of Government’s confidence in the Chinese firm. – (Times of Zambia)
By SYLVESTER MWALE