Binga: Sinansengwe development community in Binga is appealing for more than US$300 000 to repair a community lodge recently destroyed by fire.
Chizarira Lodge, located in Mucheni Conservancy along Zambezi River, was gutted by a veld fire which reduced all 15 chalets including a reception area, storerooms and some equipment such as generators and solar panels to rubble.
The fire broke out more than a fortnight ago and it was suspected to have been started by poachers in Mucheni Conservancy.
An operator used to run both the conservancy and Chizarira Lodge before pulling out.
Members of the community took over the project through a Campfire programme and have been running the facility.
However, misfortune befell the poor community as fire destroyed all its hope for development.
The conservancy was burnt too as the rains were yet to effectively start in Binga at the time.
An employee who preferred to remain anonymous said the inferno rendered them jobless.
“This was our source of livelihood through employment. We understand the closure caused by Covid-19 but there was hope that one day things will improve and we would return to work. The destruction of the lodge means that we are desperate now,” said the female employee.
Sinansengwe Ward councillor Elmon Mudenda said the community desperately needs help to rebuild the lodge which employed about 20 members of the community.
“The situation is bad. The whole facility was destroyed and now the community needs about US$300 000 to be able to rebuild the lodge and there is nowhere this money could come from,” he said.
The once luxurious safari lodge had since scaled down to self-catering, removing the catering service from its packages because of the harsh economic conditions where fewer and fewer tourists have been visiting Binga.
Cllr Mudenda said the reduction is tourist arrivals in Binga over the years affected the sustainability of the lodge.
The community hopes to lure investors through renewed tourism drive that seeks to market the sand beaches and wildlife found in the fishing district.
Tourism is one of the major economic activities in Binga although it has gone down due to lack of investment into the sector.
Other economic activities are fishing, and conservancy.