The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has disclosed plans to start the process of connecting chiefs palaces and surrounding areas in Itezhi-Tezhi district of Southern Province this year.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Chief Chikaza Munyama at his Palace in Itezhi-Tezhi district, REA Chief Executive Officer Linus Chanda revealed that the Authority under the 2023 work plan, has set aside over ten million kwacha to connect Chief Chikaza Munyama’s chiefdom to the national grid, as a starting point.
Mr Chanda explained that power will be connected from Namwala district power grid to the Chiefs palaces before connecting to other palaces.
He added that the authority is determined to connect the entire district by 2026.
Giving the scope of works of the project, Mr Chanda explained that works are likely to start in October after a contractor is identified and carries out an assessment of the area.
“We are not only electrifying Chief Chikaza Munyamas palace, but the surrounding areas including schools, health facilities and individual houses interested in getting the power,” Mr Chanda stated.
He assured the involvement of the local people in the community so that the project is localised.
Chief Chikaza Munyama of the Ila people in Itezhi-Tezhi district was elated with the development, noting the need to also include some public institutions that were left out on the initial work plan.
The traditional ruler said the people have been longing for electricity since time immemorial and that the project had started but later abandoned.
Chief Chikaza bemoaned the opportunities that the area had missed out on due to lack of electricity.
He also appealed that government should take deliberate measures to reduce the monopoly of power supply by ZESCO.
He alleged that this is the reason why many problems of power are not resolved especially in rural areas.
Chief Chikaza said his chiefdom is ready to work with REA, because the area is strategic as it boasts of cattle wealth, tourism, a fish belt and timber production thus the development to enhance businesses.
He added that health facilities will function properly, while school children will be exposed to ICT learning.
And Itezhi-Tezhi Member of Parliament Twaambo Mutinta wondered why the area is still facing challenges with access to electricity while it houses the Itezhi-Tezhi Hydro Power Station that contributes 120 megawatts towards Zambia’s electricity grid.
Mr. Mutinta was happy that government has finally responded to the plights of the people in Itezhi-Tezhi as they will benefit from the development in the country.
He noted that this will increase the economic activities among people who have not benefited from the opportunities that come with electricity.