Owner of Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited premises in Limbe and civil rights activist Rafiq Hajat have said they are not convinced by the reasons cited by Blantyre City Council (BCC) for cutting down the gigantic mahogany (m’bawa) trees at the premises.
In a telephone interview yesterday, the property owner Aniz Suleman said when BCC approached him about cutting down the trees, he objected but was surprised when on Saturday, at around 7pm, council workers in the company of police officers started felling the first tree before finishing with the other one the next day.
“We are against the cutting of the 175-year-old trees, but they have still gone ahead to do it. They have damaged our fence, our walls and they have given us no explanation even after we wrote them.
“We are very disappointed. They have cut down our trees which were not just the beauty of our property, but they had a history,” said Suleman.
He said he had offered BCC the alternative of passing the service cables and pipes in the yard even if it meant cutting through concrete or demolishing part of the building so as to save the trees.
In a separate interview, Hajat said the council still has to be held accountable.
Hajat, who is also executive director for the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), has said BCC needs to be answerable to the residents of Blantyre City because it is residents who pay city rates.
In an earlier interview with The Nation, BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said there was no other option of relocating the pipes—especially the big water pipes that supply water to areas beyond Limbe—other than cutting the trees.