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Compensations choke road works

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Compensation claims by communities are said to be hugely responsible for delays in the completion of construction works on some major roads in the country.

The Daily Times can reveal that over K4.2 billion has already been blown in compensating land owners through which two major roads namely; Karonga-Songwe and Kasiya-Santhe roads pass.

Speaking to The Daily Times on Monday Roads Authority (RA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Trevor Hiwa disclosed that continued claims for compensations from communities have resulted in the stalling of construction works on the two roads.

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According to RA, K1.2 billion has been spent on the 45 kilometre Karonga- Songwe road and K3billion has been spent on Old Airport- Kwanyanda-Kasiya-Santhe road.

“Works have stalled a bit because we have problems with communities as they have to be compensated. But the problem is that we are not able to do so at the moment because we are still negotiating with treasury to see if they can release some funds in order to allow the contractor some space to work; as it is the contractor cannot do anything because the people won’t allow that. The situation is almost the same with the Karonga- Songwe road albeit on a smaller scale,” he said.

Asked why this is the case yet 75 percent of the Kasiya- Santhe road passes through an existing road, Hiwa pushed the blame on the assessments done by the Ministry of Lands on who qualified for compensation.

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“I can’t tell how soon further compensations will be made or when we will resume the works because this is a huge problem and we need to solve it collectively. People from the department of Lands, who did the assessments, said we should compensate everyone, but we are of a different opinion because some of these people enlisted for compensation are encroachers,” he said adding that RA had made it clear that those who encroached on its reserve land will not be compensated.

Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila described the situation as unfortunate and tricky especially when issues of human rights are considered.

“It’s a tricky issue not to compensate encroachers because issues of human rights crop up when we demolish their structures. At the same time, the laws say if you occupy a piece of land for sometimes you own it and this causes complications,” observed Kasaila.

But he quickly affirmed his ministry’s stand that deliberate encroachers will not be compensated.

“Government will not compensate people for gardening because that’s a one-off and deliberate activity, but if it’s a permanent structure that has been there for some time we may be considerate,” stated Kasaila

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