With over 1 500 people affected by heavy rains, Lilongwe City Council (LCC) says it will demolish all illegal constructions to prevent further loss of life and property.
LCC chief executive officer John Chome was speaking in an interview on Saturday after Vice-President Everton Chimulirenji toured some of the affected areas in Lilongwe’s Area 22 where he also distributed relief items to flood victims.
He said the council’s failure to regulate illegal construction has led to more people being affected by rainwater almost annually, adding the council has done little to enforce the law and regulate illegal construction.
Said Chome: “We are about to conduct a mapping of all flood zones. We know that most of the affected houses are those that were constructed without our approval or in some cases, plots were allocated in wrong places. We will revoke permits for such. After the mapping, we will demolish all illegal structures.”
In 2017, LCC issued over 1000 demolition notices but failed to enforce them due to what it called community resistance and political interference.
Asked why the council has not demolished the structures years after issuing notices, Chome attributed it to laxity, saying “the council is now willing to do what is right to avoid these occurrences”.
He further indicated that the council plans to establish its own police to help in enforcing the law—including demolition of all illegal structures.
Policy analyst William Chadza, who is also Centre for Policy Action executive director, blamed LCC’s failure to implement the law on lack of political will.
He observed: “Any notices for demolition need to be followed with punitive measures for those who do not comply.”
On allocation of plots in undesignated places, Chadza said government should deal with the multiplicity of land administration in the country.
During his tour, Chimulirenji appealed to the people to move to safer grounds. The Vice-President on Friday also visited affected families in Lilongwe’s Area 50, Mgona and Ngomani where some families are currently seeking shelter in school blocks, having lost their houses to the ongoing heavy downpour.