PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has urged mining companies to assist improve the Solwezi airport and to generally realign their corporate social responsibility programmes to include sectors such as road development in the areas of their operations.
He appealed to Kansanshi mine to consider lighting up the Solwezi airport for it to be more visible as the current state of the airport where planes could not land in the night was limiting investment opportunities to North-Western Province.
“You can also consider lighting up the Solwezi airport so that it can operate just like the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport which operates even in the night. Yesterday, we were told we could not land in the night because of the lighting system challenge,” President Lungu observed.
He said this during a meeting with Kansanshi copper mine management in Solwezi yesterday.
Mr Lungu obeserved that although Kansanshi mine had done well in areas such health and education through its corporate social responsibility, it needed to tilt to other sectors to supplement what Government was doing.
He said Government had embarked on an ambitious programme to improve the road network in the country but limited resources hampered its progress.
“There is need for you to tap into supplementing Government’s efforts in improving the road sector. Even here in Solwezi, there are roads that Government is working on and so there is need for you to come on board and supplement our efforts,” President Lungu said.
Earlier, Kansanshi Mine assistant general manager Meiring Burger explained that the mine had given employment priority to Zambians and dispelled rumours that expatriates were given preference.
Mr. Burger explained that the policy of the company was such that for every expatriate employed, 16 more Zambians were employed.
He revealed that there were Zambians who had the same skills as expatriates who have been promoted to work in other sister companies in other countries.
“There are Zambians who have similar qualifications as expatriates who occupy similar positions that expatriates and some of them have been promoted to work as managers in other countries,” Mr. Burger explained.
Mr. Burger however bemoaned Zesco load shedding as having hampered operations at the mine.
He explained that load shedding had not only led to loss of production, but also led to massive equipment damage, which he said was costly to the company and Zambia at large.
Meanwhile, Kansanshi mine public relations manager Godfrey Msiska observed that the company’s corporate social responsibility in the education sector was bearing fruits as some of the students who were offered bursaries by the company were part of the labour force that came back to add value to the company. Mr. Msiska said the company had decided to invest in the education sector to improve literacy levels among the locals.
He explained his company’s vision was to ensure that Zambians were empowered in various ways.
Mr Msiska said the company had entered into a partnership with Solwezi Trades Institute to train the locals in various skills which would eventually be engaged by the mine.
He also explained that his company had facilitated the training of over 20,000 farmers in conservation agriculture in order to boost their output and that Kansanshi Mine was happy with the outcome of such training as they have opened up people to opportunities that were available for them to maximise their productivity.
President Lungu yesterday toured the Kansanshi Copper Mines on his four-day working visit and is today in Mwinilunga where he is expected to feature on a radio programme at Kabanga-banga Radio Station.