Govt losing land to encroachers

Government is failing to rein in on its land encroachment, a development that is escalating across the country.

Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu city councils have all admitted that land encroachment is escalating in their jurisdictions.

Nation on Sunday has leant that MoLHUD is failing to stop over hundreds of villagers from 17 villages in T/A Machinjiri in Blantyre from using 4 000 hectares located between Chiradzulu Turn-Off and Mapanga Factory.

The villagers led by village head Sones Chitsonga, who once served as Cabinet minister at large in Kamuzu Banda’s era, claim that the land which was previously owned by Sabantin, an Italian, before James Nikon bought it in early 1940s was distributed to families around Nanthoka, Mkunule and other villages by Blantyre District Council in1982/83.

In Lilongwe, the heavily encroached Lilongwe City Council’s (LCC) land include Area 25 closer to Dzenza in Sectors 4, 5, 6 and 7, Areas 36 behind St John’s, Area 49 Sector 3 and the one beyond Area 24, which traditional leaders and locals are illegally selling to developers.

In Mzuzu city, the worst encroachment affects land belonging to Nkhorongo, Mambo, Mchengautuwa and Chamalaza primary schools and Zolozolo Health Centre where some residents are selling it to new comers illegally.

In an interview last week, Blantyre City Council (BCC) chief executive officer Alfred Chanza acknowledged the mushrooming of encroachers in the city, which he said is affecting the city’s development plans.

“Land encroachment is still rampant in the city, especially along the hills like Soche, Ndirande and Mpingwe whereas the council has been demolishing some of the illegal infrastructures. This is affecting the council as resources used to demolish the illegal infrastructure could have been used for other development activities,” said Chanza.

Responding to a questionnaire, LCC spokesperson Tamala Chafunya observed that the encroachment is fuelled by the demand for residential land, “which is currently not being met as the council has run out of land to allocate to residents”.

She said the council is discussing with government to transfer some land to LCC for development.

“Indeed, we are experiencing encroachment on land belonging not only to the Lilongwe City Council, but also on public land belonging to the Ministry of Lands who are the main landlord in the city and also on Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) land.

“Examples of heavily encroached council land include Area 25, close to Dzenza in sectors 4, 5, 6 and 7. This is land earmarked as traditional housing area (THA) and normally administered by the Lilongwe City Council. However, people have opted to sell each other land in this area,” she said.

On his part, Mzuzu City Council (MCC) spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said the encroachment has hit the city hard in 10 public primary schools and one health facility, a development he said has crippled the council’s plans to expand.

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