Community members at Zombwe in Mzimba have asked for fair compensation if government is serious about relocating Mzuzu Airport to their remote setting in the northern side of the country’s biggest district.
Rising warnings against dehumanising compensation and resettlement payouts remain a major sticky point in President Peter Mutharika’s repeated plans to finally ensure the Northern Region’s largest airfield shifts from the centre of Mzuzu City.
On Sunday, The Nation crew visited the 20-hectare stretch, which sprawls from Lunyangwa Bridge to Emvuyeni Primary School along Ekwendeni-Ezondweni Road, where the planned construction of the long-awaited airport is expected to take place.
Community members, near Chinkhwende River, in the area said the majority of the locals are against the project because it started as a political initiative and left them with no say from the beginning.
But group village head (GVH)Chawala Nkhambule was upbeat, saying he was ready to let go of the territory he has ruled for almost 22 years because the envisioned airport could catalyse the take-off of the underdeveloped area.
“At last, we hear that the airport is coming home,” he said.
“Around 1947, all this area was home to a military airfield. If the odds were not against us, Moyale Barracks and Mzuzu Airport would still have been here. So, we are not surprised government is bringing the airport where it belongs.”
According to the traditional leader, it will be retrogressive for the locals to veto the multimillion kwacha project which is likely to bring development to the outskirts of Mzuzu City and Ekwendeni Trading Centre.
Officials at Mzuzu Airport confirmed the site for the long-awaited airport.
However, government is also exploring the possibility of constructing the airfield at Lusangazi on the northern tip of Chikangawa Forest in the Viphya Plantation.