Dust settles on ‘sold’ school saga

Concerned parties in the Livimbo School saga in Lilongwe have agreed to sort out the land encroachment issue, which has been outstanding for years.

The two parties have resolved to correct the boundary that led to misunderstandings a few weeks ago.

Sharing same land: Livimbo School and Laheri’s warehouse

In an interview with Nation on Sunday, Ishmael Wadi, a lawyer to one of the landowners bordering Livimbo Community Day Secondary School, Nurmahomed Ahmed and whose land was allegedly encroached by the school, said their expectation is that the authority would intervene and correct the boundary misunderstandings.

He said he is confident that the meetings held so far will see the issue resolved.

Alleged the school land had been bought: Tembo

“The earlier encroachment was resolved when the fence was shifted by three metres. It is after the shifting that the Surveyor General is saying the fence is encroaching on the school land by 0.019 hectares. I believe the issues can be resolved by accurate technical information which all parties can agree to adhere to,” said Wadi.

Surveyor General Julius Chisi, whose team has been on the ground to verify the map of the contested land, also told Nation on Sunday that the best way forward is to correct the encroachment.

Chisi, who took his time to explain the context of the issue and showed Nation on Sunday relevant maps and records, described the encroachment as minor. He said part of the school fence intruded into private land while other surrounding plots have also encroached into the school land.

He said his team has all the records and knows exactly how the plots are demarcated and their exercise at Livimbo was only to re-affirm the boundaries, which they have done.

“The encroachment is minor on both sides; the school fence encroaching into private property and private property encroaching into the school land. But as small as it is, we need to rectify it by having all parties respect the boundary. So, we are meeting all stakeholders to agree on the way forward,” said Chisi.

The Surveyor General said one straightforward measure is to demolish the school fence and construct one that follows the demarcation, “but we need to consider resources. If we demolish the fence exposing the school to security, are we not threats?

So, these are issues we are discussing with the stakeholders; otherwise, the fact remains that the school was not sold, but just some encroachment”.

Chisi also indicated that other plot owners in Area 2, who have encroached into the school land, are party to the discussion and agree on the need to correct the anomalies once and for all.

Records show that Ahmed raised the issue of encroachment with Ministry of Education in 2000, complaining that a school fence had invaded his plot number 2/239, but the issue was not fully attended to.

After years of silence, the issue resurfaced recently after the area’s legislator Nancy Tembo alleged that the school land had been bought and that the buyer planned to demolish the structures for private construction.

Apart from attracting social media frenzy, the issue forced both Parliamentary Committee on Education and the Anti–Corruption Bureau (ACB) to react, saying they would investigate the matter. The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), who had threatened a protest against the alleged sale of the school, called off the plans after being satisfied with the information provided by the authorities.

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