Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi says government has put in place legal frameworks and policies to ensure that public spaces are registered as public land with appropriate authorities and are properly managed for the benefit of the public.
Muluzi was speaking in Blantyre on Monday during a press briefing held after a big walk from the Blantyre Civic Offices to Government buildings in the city as part of activities to mark the World Habitat Day, which falls on the first Monday of the month of October every year.
He said it was sad to note that public spaces such as parks and community grounds were abused or invaded by private developers to the disadvantage of the public.
Said Muluzi: “One can hardly find adequate public space in our cities and towns that is suitable for all needs of the general public and even the limited space that is available, is not properly managed.”
Said Muluzi: “As government we are working towards contributing to the implementation of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) in particular Goal 11, target seven, which highlights public spaces as key. I would like to urge our councils to create, revamp and properly manage such places for the benefit of the public, including women and children.”
On his part, Blantyre City Council mayor Noel Chalamanda called for concerted efforts in planning and managing public spaces in the country’s cities.
Chalamanda said it was sad to note that public spaces such as Njamba Freedom Park, Rangeley and Queens Parks, Chimwankhunda and Chiwembe Dams in Blantyre City, Masintha ground in Lilongwe and Central and Katoto Parks in Mzuzu were not properly utilised to revamp the economies of the three city councils.
He said: “Well designed and managed public spaces are assets for a city’s function and have a positive impact on its economy, environment, safety, health, integration and connectivity.”
World Habitat Day was set asisde in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly and was first celebrated in 1986.
Here in Malawi, the commemorations were supported by UN Habitat together with the main partner UN Women. n