Zambian first lady’s fire truck trip to US sparks outrage

Esther Lungu
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Johannesburg – An expensive overseas trip by Zambian first lady Esther Lungu to collect four fire trucks donated by the Los Angeles City Fire Department has stirred a hornet’s nest back home.

In January, the first lady travelled to the US, in what has been described as a collaboration between Zambia’s Fire and Rescue Service and the LA fire department to collect the four trucks, the Lusaka Times reported.

According to presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda the purpose of the trip was to assess if the fire trucks conformed to Zambian standards.

However, it has emerged that the donated fire trucks were retired by the LA fire department after serving the area for decades. Two of the trucks are 1985 models, a third one is a 1995 model and the other one a 1996 model.

Furthermore, the first lady’s entourage included 25 people in all. A bedroom attendant, cook, cleaner, waiter, seven police officers, three secretaries, two fire brigade officers, a communications officer and an accountant were among those accompanying Lungu.

And the exorbitant sojourn abroad went ahead despite civil rights activist Laura Miti appealing unsuccessfully to US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote to withdraw the donation to Zambia.

Details of how much the two-week trip for 25 people cost Zambian taxpayers will not be made available due to Lusaka’s repeated refusal to pass the Access to Information Bill following a litany of excuses.

African News Agency (ANA)