Zomba City Recreation Park used to be a place where families and visitors went for an outing during weekends in the 80s and late 90s.
Located adjacent to Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) along the Chilembwe Highway, it was a beautiful scenery of natural vegetation with fittings of social amenities.
But now it looks abandoned with no hope of revival from the authorities. A conspicuously bare ground coupled with remains of heaps of rocks dumped at the site by a road construction company and a few dilapidated picnic chairs are now what remains of the park.
“It used to be a good place for an outing especially during weekends. We used to call it Ku Hygiene because of the hygienic attributes it had. Honestly, it was well-tended. I remember the time I used to come with friends, we had fun with other people who came from within the city as well as the surrounding districts,” said one of the senior residents of the old capital, Davies Monjeza.
He said people visited the place free of charge as it was a sort of a recreation centre for the Zomba communities.
Monjeza added that guardians of patients at the hospital liked the place because they used to interact with people of various backgrounds.
He said: “The vegetation was superb coupled with picnic chairs and summer huts. But now all the beauty is lost and the place is no longer attractive because Zomba City Council [ZCC] seems to have dumped the place.”
ZCC director of parks, wildlife and recreational facilities, Gomezgani Nyasulu, said the role of the council is to provide a whole package of the city parks and recreation facilities.
“This includes development and maintenance of these facilities. We are also there to encourage people to maintain open spaces as part of environmental management,” he said.
But Nyasulu highlighted the challenges the council faces to maintain the recreation park, citing inadequate capacity levels in both financial and human resources. He said provision of fittings and fixtures and other social amenities such as picnic chairs, toilet facilities, kiosks, playing equipment and other fittings, require capital investment.
“But we are exploring ways of engaging private operators and non-state actors in managing the parks. The critical challenge here again is on managing partnership arrangements. Currently, the council has started working with the Sub-Saharan Africa Family Enrichment [Safe]. The council is still exploring other approaches or models of adoption for management on mutual arrangement,” said Nyasulu. n