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Area 18 residents demand K4 billion

Residents of Area 18 in Lilongwe whose houses were supplied with sewer-contaminated water last month are each demanding K4 million from Lilongwe City Council and Lilongwe Water Board (LWB).

The incident occurred mid- July 2017 and reports show that water from a broken sewer pipe found its way into the board’s water pipe that got burst.

Chairperson of the Area 18 residents Leonard Phiri confirmed yesterday and said there are 263 households that are affected.

With an average household of four members, the institutions are expected to cough over K4 billion in the compensation.

Phiri said they have given the institutions a seven-day ultimatum to respond to their demand and the letter was expected to be submitted by the end of yesterday.

“You know people have suffered, traumatised and others fell sick. So we are saying these people want to be compensated. Some may not have reacted immediately but later in the year or next year, they may experience the impact of the incident, maybe [suffering from] typhoid. There are a lot of diseases that may come because of this contamination,” Phiri said

He further said the residents have also asked the two institutions to have an interface with the community as most of them can no longer trust and consume tap water.

“People here still can’t trust the tap water. We wanted them to come and assure them how safe the water is,” he said.

Lawyers’ Forum for Human Rights Executive Director, Chance Mwalubunju, said they are also demanding LWB and the council to rehabilitate all water and sewer broken pipes in the city to make sure that the water that people consume is safe.

“After doing the assessment, we feel that the right compensation is K4 million for each member of a household affected by this incident. About 263 households were affected and we have substantial evidence that these household were affected. Now we are in a process of establishing how many people because they differ in number of family members,” he said Mwalubunju further said failure to meet the demands within the stipulated period will force them to take the matter to court.

The board’s spokesperson Trevor Phoya has confirmed receipt of the letter and said they will wait for the corporate lawyers to look into the letter before acting on the matter.

However, at a time we went to press, Lilongwe City Council Acting Chief Executive Officer Charles Makanga said they were yet to receive the letter.

Meanwhile, President Peter Mutharika has instituted a task force to look into the contamination of water in the area.

According to the press statement, the task force, which will be chaired by Chief Director in the Office of President and Cabinet Rexie Chiluzi, has been given 14 days to complete and submit a report to Mutharika.

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