Government has expressed concern at the ran down Mununshi Banana scheme in Mwense District of the Luapula province.
Luapula Province Deputy Minister Davies Mwila said this when he made a spot check at the site accompanied by Finance deputy minister Alfridah Mwamba who is also Lukashya member of parliament.
Mr. Mwila said the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA ) should come in and help find the way forward in the matter because the project was too important to be wasted.
He said it was the cry of the people that the Banana Scheme should start operating to its full capacity because it was one of the three major Companies in the province.
He said the Mununshi Banana Scheme, Mansa Batteries and Kawambwa Tea Estate were the main drivers of the economy in the province and the three Companies should be revived in order to create employment for the people.
Efforts to get ZDA spokesperson Margret Chimanse for comment on the matter proved futile by press time as her mobile phone was unreachable.
And ministry of Finance and National Planning deputy minister Alfridah Mwamba was saddened that such a promising project went under after being privatized.
She said it was Government’s desire to seek ways of how such Companies could become viable again.
“We want to see how we can uplift the living standards of the people again,” she said.
And Mwense Central member of Parliament David Mabumba also expressed his concern after learning that 17 hectares of the scheme was destroyed by fire due to poor management.
He said Government needed to protect such projects because they were huge investments.
And Luapula Province Permanent Secretary Gabriel Kaunda said he was surprised that the scheme had gone to waste despite the weather conditions in the province being favourable to the growing of bananas as everyone wanted to buy them.
“In fact, the new varieties that are there now can even mature in three months,” he said.
And Mwense District Commissioner Henry Mg’omba said the Banana Scheme was an opportunity for the people in the area for income generating and its going under was a big blow to the local people.
The scheme, if properly managed could offer a great opportunity for job creation for the local people in the district once revived and operating at full capacity.
This in turn could contribute to enhanced food security and economic development for the people in the area.
And an Accounts Clerk at the Scheme George Chibwe disclosed that the 316 hectare Banana scheme was sold at 500,000.00 US Dollars during the Privatization of State owned Enterprises period to a Ndola businessman called Findlay who failed to run it and instead turned the Plant into a brewery which did not go far and closed.
He said the last time bananas were harvested from the scheme was in 2008 after which period the 17 hectare field which was under banana stands cover got burnt due to poor management.
And an Area Development Committee Secretary Moses Mushiwe disclosed that the Ndola Businessman came with some Zambia National Service Officials from Lusaka in March this year with a view to selling the Scheme to them but have not come back since.