Premium Plaza, The Tallest Building on Copperbelt

Premium Plaza, The Tallest Building on Copperbelt
Photo by Stafrance Zulu

When you get to Ndola town on Copperbelt Province, you will always notice the tallest building that stands out because of its design and uniqueness.
This is no other than Premium Plaza. A building well known by many who undoubtedly know very little about its history.
The building belongs to Zambia State Insurance Company (ZSIC), a parastatal that owns many other infrastructures across the country.
ZSIC public relations manager, Nabwalya Vhlahakis says in an interview that the construction of Premium Plaza started in 1976 around June and was completed in 1981. It took a period of five good years to complete and the outcome speaks for itself.  

"It took us five years to complete the building," Ms Vhalakis said.

[Photo courtesy of Stafrance Zulu]

The first tenant at Premium Plaza occupied flat number 102 in June 1981, and he was of Indian descent by the name of Mr. Percent, who was at the time, a teacher at Masala Secondary School.
The building comprises 108 flats and 13 shops and was officially commissioned in February 1982.
Former ZSIC Real Estate manager, Douglas Mwewa says the company procured the brown brick used for constructing the building from Zambia clay, the brick-making company.
“That was a big order and we procured all the kitchen units from Shonga Steel Company. At the time, we were driving the economy, ”he said. Mwewa said. He says, at the time the Managing Director for ZSIC was Xavier Konie.
ZSIC spent K10 million un rebased to construct the massive building that has added to the beauty of Ndola City.
The contractor was ZEKO Construction Company from Yougoslavia. They are the same ones who later built the former Council Flats in ltawa Ndola.
It cost about K10, 000,000.00 to build the entire structure. The amount though is subject to verification as it could have been more because of variation works and at the time, Zambian Kwacha was stronger than the US $ dollar.
ZSIC targeted people who were mainly the middle or high class, those who could afford to pay monthly rentals.
The monthly rentals then in 1981 ranged between K225 for a three-bedroom flat and K250 for a four bedroom-flat respectively.
Generally, preference was for Companies as it was also government policy for employers to provide accommodation for their employees.
Spider Mbale was part of the team that constructed the property and later became the caretaker. This man knows the building like the back of his palm.
Mr. Mwewa was part of the Real Estates team under ZSIC that supervised and monitored the construction of the building.
He later became ZSIC Director of the Real Estates Department until his retirement.
Mr. Mwewa who is still in the real estate sector and has since relocated to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia says, he is proud to be associated with the construction of Premium Plaza and many other ZSIC buildings dotted across the country.
"In Ndola, we constructed many more buildings like Nawaitwika flats, Lubambe center," Mr Mwewa said.
Mr Mwewa is not shy to say that ZSIC was monopoly insurance which had a lot of money.
He says the company decided to invest in real estate and started giving loans to civil servants and public workers. At that time ZSIC was driving the national economy.
Premium Plaza is one of Zambia's architectural pride.