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Villagers drag water board, others to court

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By Isaac Salima:

CONFIRMED THE MATTER—Kazembe

Some villagers from Traditional Authorities Nkanda and Juma in Mulanje District have taken to court Blantyre Water Board (BWB), SMC Infrastructure Limited, Plem Construction Company Limited and General Alliance Insurance Limited over compensation claims and alleged poor workmanship on the Likhubula Water Project.

According to court documents that we have seen, Linda Mateyu and 430 others accuse the four of negligence on the way they carried out the project. SMC Infrastructure Limited and Plem Construction Company, who were subcontracted by BWB to carry out project of tapping water from Mulanje Mountain to Blantyre, are being accused of destroying houses, crops, trees, land and other properties belonging to the claimants during installation of pipes for the project.

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“In some areas the pipes have also burst and water from the burst pipes is destroying the crops and gardens of the claimants. The bursting of the pipes is causing continuous trespass on the gardens and environmental damage and degradation of the land of the claimants,” reads in part a writ of the summons.

General Alliance Insurance Limited who were the insurers for Plem and SMC Infrastructure are being sued for not being aware of exactly what they were likely to be claims by third parties.

The villagers also demand money for compensation, accusing BWB of underpaying them, disregarding an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report that recommended payment of compensation at market value plus 30 percent of market value as disturbance allowance.

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Lawyer representing the claimants Wellington Kazembe of Mackenzie and Patrick’s Associates confirmed the matter and that they are waiting for the commencement of hearing of the case.

“The people are demanding that they be paid adequate compensation per Land Act of 2016 and per the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report. Some people were paid as low as K20,000 as compensation,” Kazembe said.

BWB spokesperson Evelyn Khonje asked for time to get more information on the matter while Chief Executive Officer Dan Chaweza said he was not aware of the issue.

Lawyer representing SMC and Plem Mapemphero Manda declined to comment on the issue saying he was not authorised by his clients to speak to the media.

The multibillion kwacha water project was completed last year and is in operation.

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