Government technocrats have been urged to desist from political bulldozing and corrupt practices if they are to correct the environmental mess on Lilongwe River catchment area near Likuni Township.
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change said this at Parliament yesterday in Lilongwe when they summoned officials from the ministries of Lands and Urban Housing and Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Lilongwe district commissioner (DC) Charles Makanga, Lilongwe Water Board chief executive officer (CEO) Alfonso Chikuni and Lilongwe City Council CEO Moza Zeleza to a meeting.
The members of Parliament (MPs) were querying the environmental mess that has seen some people building a market, houses and pit latrines and using a graveyard in the catchment area.
They also frowned at the officials’ laxity by allowing some city residents to dump waste carelessly, to mine sand, burn bricks and construct shoddy buildings.
“What we can deduce from the reports and answers you have given us here, is that some politicians bulldozed some of you into making wrong decisions, including allowing people to construct buildings, or get plots, near the river.
“The saddest part is that you have let the infiltration of the catchment area to continue, until now, without using your professionalism and integrity to fight against the evils of corruption and arrogance. Correct this mess urgently,” said committee chairperson Werani Chilenga.
The Chitipa South MP (People’s Party-PP) had to dig deep into his experience as a coordinator during a heated meeting, as members of his committee took turns to show their disappointment with the technocrats and executives who were also chastened for shifting the blame among themselves on the cause of the mess over a 600 hectare area near Chinsapo Secondary School.
“How sure can we be of the quality of water we drink, among one million of us in Lilongwe?” queried Nkhata Bay North MP Ephraim Mganda Chiume (PP), referring to the waste, fertiliser deposits in gardens and the existence of a graveyard in the catchment area.
Responding to the query, Chikuni said much as the encroachment has brought about tonnes of trash and greater challenges to the water treatment works, he assured the MPs that the tap water people drink is treated to acceptable international standards.
There were gasps of shock when it was revealed that since seven years ago, a supposed investor in the catchment area, through a questionable process, was given a large area of land, for which he has not paid anything.
“The land was supposedly sold in 2009 and the agreement was that money must be paid before the title deed was changed,” DC Makanga stated, adding that despite the non-payment, the investor is demanding a hefty compensation of K1 billion in court after being challenged not to develop the land.
Purred Balaka West MP and former first lady Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri (Independent): “I feel sorry for those officers there. They are powerless. (The problem) is the way we do our politics in Malawi –because ‘powers above’ sometimes force them to do things they don’t want to do.” n