Malawi Environmental Protection Authority (Mepa) has fined Roads Authority (RA) K6.3 million for environmental law violations following the cutting down of trees along Lilongwe City’s Kenyatta Road.
In an interview on Saturday, Mepa deputy director for legal matters Victoria Kachimera said the authority made the resolution at its meeting on Friday.
President Lazarus Chakwera launched the K19 billion project, which will expand the road into a six-way lane on August 31 this year and since then, dozens of mibawa trees said to be over 50 years old have been cut, triggering an outcry from environmentalists.
Kachimera said they fined RA because it contravened the Environmental Management Act by starting the project before the authority had approved its environmental and social impact assessment (Esia) report.
“Firstly, the RA submitted the Esia report. However, before Mepa approved it, the Roads Authority had already started cutting down the trees,” she said.
RA official were not available for comment but the Civil Society Network on Climate Change national coordinator Julius Ng’oma hailed Mepa for imposing the fines.
“Most government institutions think they are above the law. This should actually be a big lesson to other institutions including water boards and others which we have seen carrying out projects without the full environmental assessments,” he said.