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Escom pens BCC on encroachment

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Innocent Chitosi

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has asked Blantyre City Council (BCC) to stop a developer from proceeding with a multi-million kwacha project because it violates provisions of the Escom Act.

Construction activities have been going on at the site around Ginnery Corner— between Times Group and Eshan Products Limited premises— but Escom wants the developer to stop because he has encroached into Escom’s 66kv, 11kv and 400 volts overhead power lines way-leave corridor.

The Daily Times has established that, in recent weeks, a developer has been clearing bushes to develop the said land and proceeded to erect a parameter fence in preparation for the commencement of the development project.

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Escom, in the letter to the council, which The Daily Times has seen, cites Section 41(4) of the Electricity Act 2004, which prohibits any development to take place in the way-leave corridor.

In an interview, Escom spokesperson Innocent Chitosi confirmed penning BCC officials, saying they were concerned because the works being done can negatively affect structures, thereby affecting electricity supply to factories and other customers at Ginnery Corner as well as those in areas along the road to Chikwawa District.

“We already objected to such development in the past and we are surprised that the city seems to tolerate the development now without involving us. We are so fortunate that we are on the good side of the law and the same law shall protect our interests if the city fathers do not move with speed,” Chitosi said.

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In a separate interview, BCC acting Chief Executive Officer Costly Chanza said his office had received the letter and had drafted a stop notice to the encroachers.

“They will remove those things [iron sheets]; they are not supposed to be doing that. That is a way-leave and it is not supposed to be used for construction works. We are considering them as illegal developers,” Chanza said.

When we visited the site, the developer, who identified himself as Mr Tariq, said clearing the land does not mean construction and that there was, therefore, no issue.

“The people with me here are all from Blantyre City Council. This land is going to be developed in the future in the bottom section. We cannot allow people to be moving up and down within this area because it is dangerous, hence we have created a footpath of five metres for people to be able to commute. Whatever Blantyre City Council has said to you, they have to put it in writing,” Tariq said.

Blantyre City and many other areas in cities and towns across the country are infested with substandard illegal structures that, among other negative effects, blur the standard and beauty of cities and towns as envisaged by the country’s founders.

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