23 May 2017

Despatch number 4. Covering 22 and 23 May.

Monday 22 May.

On waking I was reconciled to a boring day in town doing what one has to do as the tedium of running an operation in Africa. But no, on arriving at the borehole drilling yard to pay a deposit for a Tuesday drilling day was informed in barely decipherable English, Chinyanja and Hindi that the rig was ready to go and ” lets move”. Well, where punctuality is not a watch word I could hardly demur, we rushed back to the house to provision ourselves with water and sun tan cream and we met the 20 ton drilling machine en route to lead them to the furthest point in our area. These rig drivers are extraordinary and will take these huge beasts into the most difficult of terrain where we struggle in a 4×4. Meeting the headman of the village on arrival the decision was taken for the “water diviner” to get to work and in under 5 minutes the copper rods were giving a strong signal and the home for well number 7 was divined!  The team of drillers started at 11 am and at 4.30 pm we headed home tired, dusty but the entire well complete. All that remains is to hope the village children do not brave the thorn fence we have installed to destroy the drying concrete and cement work surrounding the pump head.

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As an aside when waiting at a major road junction for the drilling rig to join us there was a roadside buying station for maize and soya beans which I wandered over to find out what was going on. An old man arrived with a bag of dry maize kernels tied on his bicycle which had brought for sale. Duly weighed on a very dodgy set of electronic scales he was offered the equivalent of £3.50 (K35) for his load of 52 kilos. He had little option but accept but one could see the distress and after speaking to him I discovered he had come over 20 miles on a bicycle for this paltry reward. (I have more than 5 times this reward in small change in my cupboard at home). At the same site I couldn’t help noticing a small people carrier pull up to change a punctured wheel. What was so ridiculous was there were 12 passengers crawl out and back into the vehicle. I could go on and on but enough for today.

Tuesday 23 May.

After calling on the drilling company to pay for well 7 we collected the reporter from the Zambian Information Service to go out into the chiefdom and commence filming and interviewing for a national Television broadcast later this year. On reviewing the 4 hour visit including an audience with the chief I found the reporters views very interesting. Clearly an educated man he was less than generous about the government and the running of the country. References to the loss of colonial disciplines and lack of progress after 50 years of independence were enlightening. I will complete the process of interviews on Thursday. Detailed discussions with the chief have given me some new challenges and insight as to his changed agenda and the reporter was again  most revealing as to the governance issues in the tribal areas as perceived by those who have a job in the urban environment. Having felt rather nervous about  the state of the tyres and anticipating a wheel change or worse have replaced all 4 tyres this afternoon! Eek the price of tyres here is eye watering. It’s a T-Bone on the BBQ and catch up on the bad news from Manchester and other gloomy happenings in the world.

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