Chilufya Halts Ruinous Mansa Road Works

Central Member of Parliament (MP) Chitalu Chilufya has ordered the Mansa District Council to immediately suspend road works that have destroyed cassava fields in Luka Kapasha area. The council has since demobilised from the site and formed a committee comprising headmen and other stakeholders to conduct a social economic survey. The council has graded some portions of cassava fields belonging to a yet-to-be established number of farmers, to create roads as it embarks on development of a new township. Speaking when he visited the site in Mansa on Monday, Dr Chilufya charged that the council’s action was against the Government’s pro-poor policy and not done according to the law.

“First of all, we have aised the council to halt the process and we need to realign the whole process to the law of the land. This is a regenerated site and there are people who have been settled here for a long period of time. So the process involves coming up with a displacement plan and we need to engage the people, sensitise the people through the village headmen and chiefs,” he said.

Dr Chilufya said the affected people should sign displacement consent documents if they and Government agreed on the compensation terms. Dr Chilufya said the committee would ascertain the ownership of the fields and negotiate how much they would compensate the legitimate owners of the fields. “But going forward, we have aised the council administration to ensure that they follow the procedures correctly.

“Yes, this is now State land but there are still rules that govern the transition. We are a pro-poor Government and we would not like to fuel poverty by wrecking people’s fields just like that.” Dr Chilufya,who is Health Deputy Minister, sympathised with the affected people and would ensure that no one was displaced without being compensated according to the law.

He, however, said those who did not want to vacate the land would not be coerced but that the site plan should be able to capture their spaces. Dr Chilufya said in as much as development was welcome in the area and Mansa as a whole, rules that governed that process needed to be followed. “No one shall be displaced without their consent and everybody who is going to have their fields messed up will be compensated,” he said. He said no houses had been demolished and that there were no plans to demolish any house. One of the affected farmers, Chibu Musenge, 78, is demanding K60,000 as compensation for the loss she incurred on 25 hectares of land. Ms Musenge accused the council of not alerting her and other affected farmers on its actions.

“Ever since I came to Mansa in 1967, I started farming there in Kapompwa in 1972 and they (council) did not stop me from farming here until recently. Had they warned us beforehand we would have removed our cassava which has been destroyed by the grader.

“It’s K60, 000 they are giving me. They (council) said they were sent by the Government to grade our cassava fields, therefore, Government must pay me K60, 000,” She said.

She threatened to take legal action if her demands were not met. Another victim, Theresa Mwila, 68, said 45 hectares of land was affected and wondered how she was going to look after several of her grandchildren born of her 13 children, all of whom had died. Mansa acting Town Clerk Edgar Kalunga said it was incorrect to accuse the local authority of not consulting the community on the development of Luka Kapasha.

Mr Kalunga said the consultation process started in 2004 and that the council was supposed to have moved on site in 2010 but first urged the farmers to harvest their produce.

“So for people to say that the council didn’t inform the community, is not correct,” he said.

Mr Kalunga, who is council finance director, said certain parameters needed to be followed before compensation was done.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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