On 8 Dec last year, Johan van Jaarsveldt and I travelled to Zambia to attend the branch banquet in Kitwe in the province of the Copper Belt. It was a remarkable journey in many ways.
Since we had been to Kitwe many times before we did not expect any hitches, but we were mistaken. The name on one of our flight tickets was misspelt, Johan, on his passport, is Johannes and there was another problem too, my yellow fever inoculation card, although still valid, had my old passport number. This delayed us and we were unable to get onto the flight to Ndola as planned, but we did manage to get tickets for a flight to Livingstone in southern Zambia. On arrival, we found that we could take a flight to Lusaka which we did. There were not any available seats on to Ndola so we elected to travel by car and arrived in Kitwe on the 8th around midday.
The banquet, held at the Edinburgh Hotel, was a sparkling affair with Jones Kelela as MC keeping the audience interested in his usual edifying way. Guests included 120 vendors and end users from the Zambian industry. The guest of honour was the Kitwe District Commissioner Mr. Mwape Kasanba who thanked the SAIMC for its valuable contribution to Zambia through supporters from outside the country. Both Johan and I addressed the group emphasising the importance of the SAIMC and encouraged the Zambian members to continue the voluntary effort to forward the goals of our organisation. We had ample time to mingle with the guests and had some interesting discussions with new and old acquaintances.
Our general impression of the situation in Zambia is that things are improving rapidly. There are many new buildings under construction, new sport stadia built and other signs of improvement. This gave us the feeling that we can expect great progress from the Zambian branch in the future.
We followed the same route home and had some time to look around over the week end. Just after Kabwe (formally Broken Hill) on the drive to Lusaka we discovered a hydro electric power station that was built in 1925 and is now run by the Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Company and known as the Mulungushi Power Station. We were able to arrange a short tour of the station located about 1 km below the buffer dam at the top of the gorge; the head water pressure on the turbines is about 10 Mpa. We travelled down the side of the gorge in a skip running on rails and descending at a 45° angle to the four turbines, including the latest installation by a Chinese supplier. The power generated is now supplied to the national grid, but originally it fed a lead and zinc mine in the vicinity. A study by the Blacksmith Institute in September 2007 found Kabwe to be one of the 10 worst polluted places in the world, mostly due to heavy metals (primarily lead and zinc) tailings making their way into the local water supply, yet for many years it has supplied ‘clean’ electric power – sad but true.
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