Farmers from Katundu Village in Traditional Authority Chimaliro’s area in Thyolo District have disrupted construction of a new market at Goliati Trading Centre because government is delaying to compensate them.
The distraction comes as the farmers fear they might be affected by hunger since authorities removed their crops such as pigeon peas, bananas, cassava and other crops when preparing for the construction works.
The situation got offhand on Tuesday morning when the farmers chased the contractor and made ridges where a foundation had already been laid.
According to one of the concerned farmers, Emmanuel Chuzungu, government has played hide-and-seek and they feared that they might lose both their crops and compensation.
Chuzungu told The Daily Times that his pigeon pea crop was almost mature when the authorities cut it down with the assurance that he would get paid by last February.
By the time we reached the site, we found farmers destroying the foundation, saying they were reclaiming their ancestral land.
“Fifteen families have been cultivating here and now they do not have land. When we discussed with the authorities from the Local Government, we were convinced that the market to be constructed would benefit us.
“We agreed knowing that we would buy or rent other fields to cultivate and use the other money to buy food since we sacrificed our own. Yet when we approach them now, they are not giving us tangible answers,” Chuzungu said.
Thyolo District Commissioner, Charles Thombozi, downplayed the issue, saying the compensations are processed by the Office of the President and Cabinet and names of the beneficiaries were submitted.
“It was only a month ago when we discussed the matter with the people and we are surprised that today they have come to disturb the contractor.
“As of now, the council has sent a team to Lilongwe to push for the cheque. Their worries are genuine because these are their fields where they grew crops hence we assure them that they would get their money,” he said.
Senior Chief Ngolongoliwa agreed with Thombozi, saying the complaints of his people are valid.
“My people should understand that compensations go through processes, hence when we tell them that government is following steps, they should wait. They will get their money and progress,” Ngolongoliwa said.
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