Construction of the long-awaited Jenda-Edingeni Road has been suspended because parties cannot agree on compensation issues, it has been established.
In its initial compensation assessment exercise, Roads Authority (RA) put the number of properties to be affected at four and recommended that K37 million be shared among the property owners depending on the size and magnitude of the expected damage.
However, the Road Fund Administration (RFA) suspected that the total amount of the compensation could be on the higher or lower side; hence, it demanded that a fresh assessment be conducted and the amount revised.
The new development has reportedly angered the property owners who suspect authorities were undervaluing their assets.
RA public relations officer (PRO) Portia Kajanga, in a telephone interview on Tuesday last week, confirmed that construction works had indeed been suspended.
But Kajanga said only a 240-metre section of the road where the properties under dispute are located has been affected by the development.
RFA spokesperson Masauko Mngwaluko also confirmed via e-mail that they have requested for a reassessment because there were some factors overlooked in the initial assessment.
He said compensation, among others, is based on the principle that beneficiaries will be put in the same position as if their property had not been taken from them.
Mngwaluko said the initial assessment assumed that the beneficiaries would be asked to pull down their properties and relocate, which was not supposed to be the case.
“RFA, therefore, saw the need for a reassessment, which should be done based on the fresh fact that beneficiaries may not be relocated. This is the main reason why RFA requested that a consideration should be made for reassessment,” he said.
He said a property verification exercise RFA jointly conducted with other parties on November 19 2015 showed that there are a number of dwelling houses and business properties along the 240-metre stretch around Jenda Trading Centre likely to be affected by the construction works. Jenda Trading Centre lies along the Kasungu-Mzimba stretch of the M1 Road.
“We have a rigorous process when it comes to processing payments for all road works invoices including compensations. This ensures that there is value for money,” he said.
Mngwaluko said Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development officials from M’mbelwa District Council were expected to conduct the reassessment and determine the revised total amounts required to compensate the property owners.
Traditional Authority (T/A) Mzukuzuku Jere recently told The Nation that the upgrading of the 53-kilometre long road to bitumen standard from Jenda to Edingeni stands to boost economic activity at trading centres such as Embangweni, Edingeni and Kamchocho.