Saulos Chilima urges flood victims to relocate
Vice President Saulos Chilima on Tuesday said government does not have resources to be responding to water disasters every year and asked flood victims in Mzuzu and other places to cooperate with government on a relocation arrangement.
Speaking to about 150 people accommodated at Kawuwa Camp after inspecting the affected areas of Chibavi, Hilltop, Masasa and Salisbury Line, Chilima who is also minister responsible for disaster and relief management said it makes no sense for people to continue living in the wetlands on grounds that it is their ancestral land.
“As a country we have competing priorities and we cannot afford to be attending to same problems each time when there is a possibility of avoiding them by moving to safer places. Let us borrow a leaf from elsewhere and leave the disaster prone areas no matter that it’s where our fore-fathers were buried,” said Chilima.
He then described the situation in Mzuzu which has now rendered over 7,000 people destitute as depressing. He assured the people that government through the department of lands and city council will speed up the land identification process for the victims to settle.
“As we recover from the current disaster let us plan together, we should be responsible enough to avoid recurrence of such problems. Council authorities should advise residents on proper designs of dwelling houses, settlement should be by design and not accidental,” he added.
For the long term, Chilima said government is working at breaking the disaster cycle in the country by investing resources in environmental conservation, construction of dykes and dams as well as ensuring food security for all Malawians.
Flanked by Defence Minister Jappie Mhango, Sports Minister Grace Chiumia and other government dignitaries, the Vice President also donated relief items such as maize flour, beans, cooking oil and salt among others and also promised that blankets were on the way.
However, in his remarks Inkosi ya Makosi Mbelwa V of Mzimba asked those living in the informal settlements, which are the mostly affected, to consider heading back to their home districts arguing a majority of them do not have permanent jobs to afford proper houses which are resistant to natural disasters.
Despite the mumbling and murmuring in the background the local leader insisted that lately cities like Mzuzu are faced with massive population growth because of people who move to towns with no proper plans to sustain their livelihoods.
“Each one of us should reflect and ask ourselves why we find ourselves in this situation and then look back if it still makes sense to insist on living in the city when we can hardly secure our lives and families. Perhaps it is time to think about home,” said Mbelwa.
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