The the construction of Freedom Park Mall in Kitwe’s Copperbelt Province has come with joy and a sense of pride to the local people.
For some, the park brings back the memories of the criminal activities which used to take place at the site where many bodies of people believed to have been killed elsewhere, were dumped.
But the launch of the construction of a modern shopping mall has brought joy to residents with most of them saying the project is long overdue.
One trader recalled how she was almost raped at the site after the assailants dragged her into a nearby thicket. But police alert officers who were on patrol saved her.
“Today I feel relieved knowing that this place is now safe because I was nearly sexually assaulted by five men who dragged me into the bush at the park. But seeing this launch gives me hope that women and girls are now safe,” she said.
She said that after hearing about the launch of the construction, she wanted to see and witness the launch for herself.
She lauded the Government for the launch of the project at a site which had become perennially dangerous.
James Mwila, yet another resident, said he was delighted to be part of the historic launch of the construction of the shopping mall at an area which had previously been so dangerous.
He added that some street boys were making use of the site as a hiding place due to the overgrown grass.
He said the street boys were posing danger to the citizens as many had become petty thieves and used to snatch things like handbags and phones mostly from unsuspecting women before disappearing into the bushes.
President Edgar Lungu, who officially launched the construction, said he was delighted that the long-awaited start of the construction works was finally over.
“I am aware that various stakeholders and Kitwe residents had raised concerns about lack of progress on the site including fears that this development will destroy the historical heritage. But I want to say that the waiting is over because we are interested in taking this city to another level of development,” he said.
The President added that the construction of the mall will not only create jobs for the local people, but will also add to the city’s beauty.
He further added that the launch was a clear show of the Government’s willingness and commitment to resolve the economic hurdles that the local citizenry had been facing over the years due to slump in prices of commodities
President Lungu said that he was delighted that the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) had taken up the initiative of developing the park which was anticipated to create 1,000 jobs during the construction period and a further 800 during the operation of the mall.
He urged the developers of the mall to accelerate the process to enable the people can start enjoying the benefits that comes with the ultra modern shopping mall.
He expressed gratitude with the partnership of NAPSA in the development of the site which had been abandoned for a long time.