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Escom, investor tussle over land

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The Electricity Supply  Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Kachikungu Investments in Lilongwe have clashed over a piece of land on which the investor has erected a new block of shops which Escom wants to demolish, arguing the investor has encroached on its land.

The initial shops were gutted by fire last year and the investor has apparently moved on the first space which was occupied by the shops, thereby having the block right under an 11kv overhead power line against the required minimum of five metres way-leave.

However, Kachikungu Investments Managing Director, Ireen Chimdzeka, argues that it is actually Escom that encroached on her plot Title Number 2/495 because the corporation has apparently erected a pole within the boundaries of her plot without her consent or any compensation.

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In a letter to Chimdzeka, whose copy The Daily Times has seen, Acting Regional Manager for Central Electricity Supply (CES), Youngie Chewele, asked Chimdzeka to demolish the building from within the way-leave “to avert loss of life and damage to property and interference with repair or maintenance works…”

“If the above request is not met we advise that, amongst other things, Escom will not provide electricity service connection to the shops and, will not [be] liable for any consequences thereon,” reads the letter in part.

Chewele further warned that Escom would request the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) to issue an order for the removal of demolition of the structure if the investor failed to comply.

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In response to Escom’s demands, Kachikungu Investments’ lawyers, Kita and Co., demanded that Escom should compensate their client for encroaching on her land without compensating her.

“…it is not our client’s intention to fight with Escom as she will always need them for electricity supply. At the same time, we do not find it proper for Escom to be threatening our client that if she does not demolish the shops, then she will not be provided with electricity,” reads the response signed by Wapona Kita of Kita and Co.

He also suggested that if Escom fails to compensate his client, the matter should be referred to Mera for arbitration as provided for under the Energy Regulation Act.

However, it appears Escom informed Lilongwe City Council about the issue and asked the council to use its powers to demolish the structures.

We have in our possession several other documents including a demolition order by the council and a court injunction obtained against the same by Kita.

Following the demolition order which came after Escom and Kachikungu Investments have failed to reach a consensus, the investor’s lawyers obtained an injunction from the High Court in Lilongwe on 22 December last year, stopping the council from executing the order.

Meanwhile, the two parties are expected to appear before Judge Charles Mkandawire for an inter partes hearing.

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