Comprehensive Press Statement issued by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon Gary Nkombo, MP, Friday, 13th January, 2023.
REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA
MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
STATEMENT ON MEASURES TO ADDRESS COVID 19 AND DIARRHEAL DISEASES
DELIVERED BY THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, HON. GARY NKOMBO, MP.
ON Friday, 13TH JANUARY, 2023
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
Members of the press
Ladies and gentlemen
Country men and women
I welcome you to this press briefing today. As you may recall, the Honourable Minister of Health, yesterday, presented a clear and concise statement to the nation on the prevailing Covid-19 situation and the diarrheal diseases, vis-à-vis, Cholera.
Therefore, the purpose of this engagement is to present the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Developments position on the measures that the Ministry is implementing in relation to the Covid-19 situation and the rising diarrheal cases in the country.
Firstly, allow me to commend my counterpart, the Honourable Minister of Health for the informative statement on the Covid 19 and diarrheal diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. The statement was delivered timely and offered the much-needed policy direction with regard to Governments efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic and diarrheal diseases through her Ministry.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The continued existence of Covid-19 in the Country and the outbreak of the new variant known as the XBB, especially in the early days of 2023 requires a comprehensive response and clear policy to inform workable strategies. My Ministry is cognizant that the Country has recorded a steady increase in Covid-19 cases and, therefore, there is a need to implement measures to address the pandemic and the increasing numbers of diarrheal diseases and avert the outbreak of cholera.
The Ministry acknowledges the hard work that the Government, through the Ministry of Health, is undertaking to ensure that the people of Zambia are protected from the Virus through prompt identification, testing, and vaccinations. My Ministry particularly wishes to commend the Ministry of Health on the enhanced communication with regard to Covid 19 updates through various media.
Country men and women,
I should state that the pandemic places a considerable responsibility on my Ministry, whose mandate is to facilitate the provision of quality and sustainable municipal services. In providing the requisite municipal services through the Local Authorities, it is critical that we avert the spread of communicable diseases and ensure that communities are protected. Therefore, in line with Governments effort to reduce the scourge of Covid-19 and the increasing diarrheal diseases, my Ministry will continue to facilitate clean and healthy environments.
Further, in as much as Zambia is yet to record cases of cholera, my Ministry will continue to work to provide clean and healthy environments to prevent any outbreaks.
Ladies and Gentlemen
As we move to address the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasing diarrheal diseases and mitigate its scourge, my Ministry has intensified efforts to facilitate a clean and healthy environment. The following measures are, therefore, being undertaken:
Regulation of Restaurants, Bars, Taverns, and Casinos.
My Ministry, through the Local Authorities, is working to enhance the regulation of all restaurants, bars, taverns, casinos, and other such facilities for complete compliance with the Public Health guidelines and regulations including those on Covid-19. Therefore, the facilities must maintain high sanitary and hygiene standards, while facilitating masking-up and social distancing.
It is expected that all these facilities hold relevant and valid licenses for their operation and that they adhere to the provisions of the said licenses. In this regard, Government will not hesitate to revoke the licenses of any facilities found to be operating outside the provisions of the licenses and indeed the provisions of the law. All facilities operating without a valid license will face the repercussions as outlined in the law.
Cleaning up and Sanitising Public Areas
One of the critical factors affecting the spread of the Covid 19 and Diarrheal diseases is unsanitary and unhygienic environments. As the Ministry responsible for providing municipal and social services, we have undertaken to enhance the cleaning up and sanitizing of public areas and facilities such as markets and bus stations.
My Ministry is working to ensure that Local Authorities facilitate the cleaning and sanitizing of these facilities on a daily basis. Further, my Ministry will enforce Covid 19 regulations for all traders, operators, and the general public in these facilities. This includes regular cleaning of individual workstations, provision of sanitation stations, and facilitation of social distancing.
Fumigation of all public facilities such as markets and bus stations will be undertaken regularly through the Local Authorities. in this regard, the Ministry will be holding a residual spraying exercise and cleaning up exercise of public facilities in Lusaka on Saturday, 14th January 2023.
Another factor contributing to the exacerbation of Covid 19 and Diarrheal diseases is street vending. Under Statutory Instrument No. 18 of 2018 on Street Vending and Public Nuisance, street vending is prohibited. The Government under the provisions of the SI has designated specific areas for trading.
In line with this, the Ministry is hereby directing the Lusaka City Council and all the local authorities countrywide to clear out all vendors in undesignated areas. Local Authorities will, therefore, be required to enhance enforcement and ensure that all vendors in undesignated areas are removed to minimize unregulated interaction of the public and facilitate sanitation and hygiene against Covid and Diarrheal diseases.
The Ministry is aware that traders deliberating leave the markets to trade in the streets creating unhygienic environments.
All local authorities are further directed to improve the waste and sanitation situation in all the markets and bus stations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Ministry takes note of my counterparts emphasis on the need to manage our waste. In this regard, we have been working with the Local Authorities to enhance solid waste management by collecting solid waste in the settlements including public spaces such as markets, bus stations, and other community gathering areas. Waste management is the responsibility of every individual, so I implore every one of us to take up individual responsibility in managing waste.
My Ministry will continue to capacitate the local authorities in waste management even as we continue to deal with the collection of historical waste, especially in unplanned settlements.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The onset of the rainfall brings with it challenges of flooding in the Central Business District as well as the neighborhoods. Increased rainfall activity due to climate change has given rise to flooding which results in the proliferation of diarrheal diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. This is exacerbated by the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste resulting in the blockage of drainage lines. It becomes critical that waste is managed to avoid blockages in drainages.
My Ministry through the local authorities will continue to undertake sensitization measures and community engagement to foster clean and healthy environments under the Keep Zambia Clean, Green, and Healthy Campaign. My Ministry will enhance the measures under the Keep Zambia Clean, Green, and Healthy Campaign to mitigate the rising cases of Covid 19 pandemic and diarrheal diseases.
The fight against Covid 19 and Diarrheal diseases requires the concerted effort of all stakeholders, working together to eliminate the scourge. My Ministry invites all stakeholders including the private sector to collaborate with the Ministry in implementing measures aimed at addressing Covid 19 and diarrheal diseases. These stakeholders include Government institutions, the private sector, civil society, and the general community.
Countrymen and Women
As I conclude, I wish to re-affirm my Ministrys commitment to protecting our people from the Covid 19 pandemic and diarrheal diseases through the implementation of the Ministrys mandate, which is to provide municipal services and infrastructure and facilitate healthy and sustainable environments. Indeed, we have a lot of work ahead of us, and we believe that we will win this battle when we put our efforts together. www.rainbownewszambia.com