Five hundred residents from Liwonde in Machinga District have taken to court Portuguese construction and industrial conglomerate Mota- Engil Malawi for alleged trespassing and are demanding K3 billion in compensation.
Court documents show that the residents are from village heads Kaudzu and Sitola in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Sitola.
The court records further show that Mota- Engil is constructing a dry port in the area, but was yet to pay them compensation despite undertaking assessments in 2018.
In one of the affidavits filed at the High Court in Blantyre, the residents— in a case classified as MacDonald Makanjira and others (claimants) and Mota – Engil (defendants)—allege that the multinational company is acquiring the land negligently; hence, the residents have suffered as a result of the action.
The claimants allege that Mota-Engil did not
follow expropriation procedures under Section 44 of the Constitution, therefore, the residents’ land is in the process of being acquired illegally.
According to the affidavit, due to Mota- Engil’s action, they have lost their houses, land for their houses and land for cultivation, leaving them with no place for farming.
Besides, the residents also want payment of 30 percent of market value of the land, crops and other properties damaged or taken as disturbance allowance, special damages such as harvest lost and land lost and damages of loss for possession of land.
A valuation report which we have seen dated October 7 2020 prepared by W.E.M Property Valuation and Management Services, states that properties within the project area were inspected, houses were measured, trees counted and sizes of gardens were estimated.
In a written response yesterday, lawyer representing the residents, Wellington Kazembe confirmed the development.
He said: “Mota-Engil and the government promised to compensate the people in 2018, but no payment has been made to date.
“Houses, crops and trees of the claimants were valued in 2018 and they were promised to be paid soon but nothing has been paid to date.”
But Mota – Engil spokesperson Thomas Chafunya yesterday declined to comment on the issue on the basis that the matter is pending in court.
Mota – Engil is a Portuguese group in the sectors of civil construction, public works, port operations, waste, water and logistics, among others.