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 2011-05-27 10:50 pm Back to NEWS
Banda kicks off $98m Society House works

Times Reporter

President Rupiah Banda has commissioned the US$98 million Society House re-development and Central Arcade development project in Lusaka and expressed confidence that it will silence critics as it will change the face of the capital city.

Mr Banda said in Lusaka yesterday the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and Zambia National Building Society (ZNBS) deal had made him proud because it would herald a comprehensive facelift to the central business district through the five-star office block and a car-park that would accommodate 1,068 motor vehicles.

He said the redeveloped Society House building would stand tall and imposing in the city and would help silence those who had opposed the project.

Society House was gutted by an inferno in 1997.

The project, to be undertaken by Zambezi Consortium, seeks to turn the Central Arcade into an ultra-modern structure that would have Zambia’s first automated car park to decongest town centre.

The whole project will run from Cairo Road to Cha Cha Cha Road with a chain of luxurious offices.

Mr Banda said improved finances for ZNBS entailed efficiency in delivering houses to the people because the institution had the mandate to empower Zambians without housing and hailed efforts that aimed at improving the quality of the capital city.

He urged all Zambians to support the project that was being undertaken under the concept of public-private partnership and especially that failure since 1997 to renovate the building had raised concerns even in the National Assembly and the residents of Lusaka.

“The face of Lusaka is surely changing for the better, and my dream is that this change does not stop within the boundaries of Lusaka but spills over to other towns and cities.

“Let us give our people a chance to enjoy first-class infrastructure with safe and high-quality parking facilities,” he said.

President Banda said a financially solid parastatal would ensure increased and unbroken delivery of pension and social services to the retirees around the country.

He said change was always associated by resistance but urged managements of the two institutions to remain steadfast and focused on their mandate.

The president, who was flanked by Vice-President George Kunda, said ZNBS should work towards increasing house ownership as Zambia heads towards the Vision 2030 that seeks to turn the country into a middle income country which target he said was likely to be attained before that year.

He urged ZNBS to reach out to more people in the country in the provision of cost-effective houses through mortgages which could be given for medium and long-term periods.

All stakeholders should ensure that all the parameters for the project were met by sharpening operations.

“The project is viable in technical, social and economic terms. It will create employment both at construction stage and user stage, serving as a perpetual earner of revenue for the two organisations.
The end benefit will accrue to the people of Zambia,” the president said.

Labour Minister Austin Liato dismissed as lies recent stories by the Post Newspaper that the project was laced with corruption and wondered how the two parastatal institutions could have received instructions to run the project when the process started around 2005.

He said the Post lied about a Kenyan investor being engaged because the consortium running the project was formed between a South African firm and several Zambian construction and consulting companies that formed Zambezi Consortium, which won the bid.

ZNBS board chairperson Joyce Nonde-Simukoko said 800 jobs would be created during the construction stage while 1,000 others would be created after the completion of the project.

She said many Zambians would benefit from the mammoth project through the value-chain and the transformation of the central business district.

NAPSA board chairperson Dominic Mbangu said the institution had formed a separate company called Re-development of Building Society Limited that would manage the process of construction with NAPSA being the shareholder.

Mr Mbangu said after construction, NAPSA would have a management team represented at ZNBS for about 20 years to facilitate the recovery of the money paid for the project.

ZNBS managing director Noriana Muneku said her institution had the mandate to ensure public property was managed in a way that met people’s expectations.

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