No empty threats, de­mol­ish all

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS -

THIS Fri­day, the na­tion will find out if Lands Min­is­ter, Jean Ka­p­ata, is a wo­man of her word or not.

Last week, Ms Ka­p­ata is­sued a warn­ing to prop­erty own­ers in Lusaka to de­mol­ish any struc­tures that en­croach on road re­serves and gave a 7-day ul­ti­ma­tum within which the ex­er­cise was to be done.

The warn­ing may have been di­rected at Lusaka res­i­dents, but should serve as a warn­ing to the rest of the coun­try.

The min­is­ter was cat­e­gor­i­cal in her warn­ing. If prop­erty own­ers do not de­mol­ish en­croach­ments on road re­serves, then Govern­ment would move in and de­mol­ish all such struc­tures.

The mes­sage was loud and clear. De­mol­ish or Govern­ment will come and de­mol­ish the struc­tures en­croach­ing on roads.

This move is ob­vi­ously meant to bring san­ity to a sec­tor that has gained no­to­ri­ety be­cause of some prop­erty own­ers’ pen­chant for il­le­gal ex­pan­sions.

Peo­ple want to build on drainages and en­croach on roads to such an ex­tent that pedes­tri­ans are left with lit­tle space to walk on. In­deed, on some roads of Lusaka’s Em­mas­dale area, even mo­torists find it dif­fi­cult to u-turn or give way, all be­cause fences have been built too close to roads.

In most of th­ese cases, prop­erty own­ers claim to have sought coun­cil author­ity to ex­tend their wall fences. How­ever, one does not need to be a le­gal ex­pert to know that when a struc­ture is built on top of a sewer line on in­deed ex­tended onto a road, it is an in­fringe­ment. It is il­le­gal.

Matero Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Lloyd Kaziya has re­it­er­ated Govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish il­le­gal struc­tures en­croach­ing on roads if prop­erty own­ers do not do so. This again is a re­minder to the peo­ple in his con­stituency to take the warn­ing se­ri­ously.

Peo­ple ought to re­alise there is no com­pen­sa­tion when an il­le­gal struc­ture is de­mol­ished be­cause it was put up in the wrong place. Some de­vel­op­ers, in com­plic­ity with coun­cil of­fi­cials, have de­fied the law by con­tin­u­ously putting up il­le­gal struc­tures in the city.

For in­stance, it is dif­fi­cult to fathom where some de­vel­op­ers get the courage to defy not only logic but the law, by putting up a struc­ture in front of a mil­i­tary med­i­cal school.

One would have ex­pected the Min­istry of De­fence to have ob­jected to the Em­mas­dale struc­ture put up in such a way that the mil­i­tary med­i­cal school has no ac­cess to the road.

Such a project should have been nipped in the bud. But alas, the de­vel­oper was al­lowed to con­tinue and adamantly re­fused to lis­ten to any­one crit­i­cis­ing the block­ing of a road re­serve.

As Mr Kaziya puts it, there are many res­i­dents in his con­stituency that have thrown cau­tion to the wind and built struc­tures any­where they deemed fit for as long the coun­cil “au­tho­rised.”

We know that coun­cils have se­ri­ous problems when it comes to land ad­min­is­tra­tion and it is no won­der that in the case of Ndola and Kabwe, their land ad­min­is­tra­tion agen­cies were re­voked. The Kabwe Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil has since had their agency re­stored.

We feel that Lusaka City Coun­cil needs to stop the il­le­gal is­suance of land on road re­serves to save the city from turn­ing into a slam of il­le­gal struc­tures.

In-fills can be given out to de­vel­op­ers, but not road re­serves which we un­der­stand fall un­der the Min­istry of In­fra­struc­ture. The coun­cil should at all times re­fer such claims for land by res­i­dents to the city plan­ning depart­ment to en­sure that de­ci­sions made are based on law.

As it is, some res­i­dents stand to lose when govern­ment sets bull­doz­ers in mo­tion to de­mo­li­tion all prop­er­ties en­croach­ing on road re­serves.

And it is our hope that Ms Ka­p­ata meant what she said and was not mak­ing empty threats.

Min­is­ters should do what they prom­ise to do if at all they want peo­ple to take Govern­ment se­ri­ously. Lip-ser­vice is use­less when Govern­ment wants to cor­rect a wrong.

When peo­ple get used to lead­ers mak­ing empty threats, they will dis­re­gard author­ity at will.

We are wait­ing for the 7-day ul­ti­ma­tum to ex­pire this Fri­day and hop­ing to see bull­doz­ers at work.

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