Vice-President Saulos Chilima Monday ordered Lilongwe City Council (LCC) to demolish houses that were built in and along the banks of Lingadzi River in Area 49, opposite Bingu National Stadium, and Mtandire, saying such illegal structures are responsible for man-made disasters.
Speaking after visiting the flood victims Monday morning, Chilima said lives of people should not be put in danger because of some selfish individuals who construct houses not only along the river banks but also in rivers.
Chilima told LCC to invoke relevant by-laws that will see all structures in and along Lingadzi River demolished for proper flow of the river.
“Last year, we were here and advised those people to move out of the place but they have decided to be selfish and they built their houses not only along the river banks but in the river, thereby affecting its flow and creating disasters for some innocent people. The houses have been built in illegal places; this is a man-made disaster and we will have to demolish those houses by force,” Chilima said.
He said visiting people affected by floods is not a form of entertainment, adding that people who support disaster victims cannot keep on going to Mtandire because of some “selfish” individuals.
Some of the houses to be demolished are big town houses whose fences and walls disturb the normal flow of the river, causing the river to flood to other areas beyond the river banks.
Chilima then warned against abuse of relief items, emphasising that the donated items are for the affected people and not aid workers or any other person outside the affected area.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Aggrey Masi, who is also Member of Parliament for the area, told the gathering that 138 households have been affected and 12 houses have collapsed, translating to 638 affected individuals.
Chilima donated relief items to some of the victims, with the promise that the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, and other stakeholders, would deliver the rest of the items.
In the meantime, Lilongwe Water Board is expected to be providing water to people in the area and, in a bid to prevent a cholera outbreak, the households will be given chlorine.
Although Chilima has ordered the demolition of the houses, it is unlikely that the order will be implemented due to the sensitivity of the matter as we draw closer to the 2019 elections.
In Blantyre, the City Council has warned over 10,000 illegal settlers that their houses would be demolished at the elapse of a 60-day notice that the settlers were given in January this year.
Some of the settlers claim that they built the structures under the watch of the city council and that, if they were to relocate, they should be compensated.
In 2013, the illegal settlers obtained an injunction against Blantyre City Council (BCC) stopping it from demolishing their structures at the foot of Soche Hill.
In December last year, Chilima also criticised BCC for failing to act on illegal settlements which, he said, were disaster in waiting. Most of the illegal settlements in Blantyre are to relocate in and around Soche, Bangwe, Ndirande and Mpingwe hills.
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