The capacity of Blantyre City Council (BCC) to conduct a Supplementary Valuation Roll (SVR) is being questioned by some property owners in the commercial city and a professional body of land surveyors.
The development augments disagreements that have been rocking the industry following some reported skirmishes between valuers and property owners in Mzuzu, Zomba and other councils in the country.
BCC officials this week confirmed that the council has started capturing properties that were not in the 2005 Quinquennial Valuation Roll (QVR), including those that have been improved or recently constructed since the last valuation roll was conducted.
But president of Surveyors Institute of Malawi (SIM), Ellen Nyasulu, in an e-mailed response, said experience had shown that the valuation exercise requires personnel with expertise, experience and equipment to do a good job, putting to question BCC’s ability to properly conduct the exercise.
“While councils can do it by themselves, but that should be only if they have the capacity.
This includes requisite contextual experience which dates back to the relevant QVR. But as it is now that capacity is not there, hence they can out-source the task. The last valuation roll was done in 2005 by five firms,” said Nyasulu.
She said SIM was only made aware of the exercise by BCC through a press statement.
On another controversial issue about professional fees, which councils pay to government when they use Lands and Valuation Department, Nyasulu said: “BCC as a client will engage valuers and pay them. Even when it engages government valuers, it is supposed to pay the Malawi Government.
On use of self valuers, we are not sure what arrangement has been made, but can only assume that, as employees there is no fees paid.”
BCC spokesperson Anthony Kasunda, responding to our e-mailed questionnaire, conceded that BCC has only one registered valuer within its ranks, who is currently leading the council’s valuation team.
“The SVR is just capturing a few properties which we are capable of doing. When we will be doing valuations for the whole city (QVR), we will engage other valuers, both public and private,” said Kasunda.
But the spokesperson dismissed rumours that some of the council’s valuation team members were soliciting money from property owners, to undervalue properties.
Said Kasunda: “We have received one case only and after investigation, it was established that the person who was alleged to have collected money is from Lands Department, not the council. We have asked property owners to demand for BCC identity cards from the valuation team, on top of a letter of introduction.”
One of the property owners in the city, Mahomed Hanif Osman, who is also MP for Chiradzulu Central, questioned the way BCC was handling the exercise.
“In my opinion, the uncertainty comes in the way that this whole exercise is being done. Because now the BCC is doing this exercise and probably they do not know how to value property. In the last valuation, in 2005, government valuers were deployed to do the valuations while BCC used the data to update their rates records.
This time around it is vice-versa. Now we see BCC acting as a judge and a jury, which I think it should not have been like that,” he said.
Nyasulu said her institute will investigate issues of unprofessional conduct by any entity or person within the industry.