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Ministry to review public land policies

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Surveys, Atupele Muluzi, has said government will be working with city and town councils to review public land policies to ensure good management of public lands.

Muluzi was speaking yesterday in Blantyre during events to commemorate World Habitat Day which falls on the first Monday of October every year.

This year’s celebrations were held under the theme ‘Public places for all’ with calls for stakeholders to ensure that everyone, including children and people with disabilities, have access to public places.

And addressing journalists at a press briefing after a solidarity walk that was part of the commemoration which started from Blantyre Civic Offices to the government building in Blantyre, Muluzi acknowledged that there is poor management of public places in the country that leads to people’s reluctance to use such places to their full potential.

He said streets and public places have often been overlooked and undervalued although they are considered the backbone of the country’s cities.

“This is a wakeup call for us to ensure that we have well-managed public places within our cities in the country.

These are places that are used for recreation for example. So, we will make sure that such places are accessible and enjoyable by all without a profit motive,” Muluzi said.

However, in his address Muluzi said his ministry is aware that public lands are invaded by private developers who are mismanaging public places.

He was, however, quick to point out that his ministry will be reviewing and implementing laws for the protection of open spaces.

“Much as we are saying that public spaces should be accessible to all, we are also aware that in most places such lands are being grabbed and used irresponsibly by some people. My ministry will, therefore, be reviewing policies to ensure good management of open spaces.

“We will also be implementing laws that already exist to ensure safety of public lands. Currently, we are in the process of reforming some policies to safeguard public land and one other important element is that we are drafting land policies that we will present in Parliament so that as a country, we have well-managed public lands to benefit all Malawians,” Muluzi said.

World Habitat Day was set aside by the United Nations to reflect on the status of the cities and towns all over the world and in Malawi the day brought together mayors from all the cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba to reflect on the development of public places in their respective cities.

In his speech, hosting Mayor, Councillor Noel Chalamanda, said lack of funds is negatively affecting their campaign to manage open spaces.

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