Lubinda halts Libala land grab

STOP construction on the the Libala Stage 1 piece of land until the controversy surrounding the transfer is resolved, Kabwata Member of Parliament    Mr Lubinda, who is Minister of Agriculture, has ordered.

He has ordered that development on the controversial piece of land be halted until his investigations were concluded to ascertain how the land was sold.

Mr Lubinda, who visited the area yesterday morning, said he was deeply concerned with the controversial land sales in Libala township following objections by affected residents.

He requested LCC assistant director of city planning Roy Mwandunga who accompanied him to the site in the presence of angered Libala residents to write to Mr Chiza Gondwe, the man constructing on the land in question, to stop building.

The  controversial land has led  to the suspension of Ward 7 councillor Emmanuel Chanda from the Patriotic Front for exposing the illegal land transaction.

The  sale of land in Libala has sparked resistance among residents who suspect corruption could be taking place among some council officials in the allocation of land in the area.

The council is also embroiled in the illegal sale of the Libala Tennis Court land to a Chinese investor who was expressly given title within 24 hours after paying for the land in question.

Mr Lubinda was yesterday presented with documents which showed that in 2005 two residents had applied to the council for extension of their plots in the same area but were denied permission by the council, claiming that the land was gazetted.

But late last year the piece of land was offered to  Mr Gondwe who is building a structure the residents fear would result in the closure of two road outlets, thereby inconveniencing motorists especially on Nationalist Road. But Mr Lubinda has assured the residents that he would find out from the council when and how the land in question was de-gazetted and the criteria used to have it sold.

“From what I have seen there are three issues that need to be answered. I will ask the council to explain  when the land was de-gazetted to make the plot vacant; how it was given to a man who just applied for it last year without considering those who applied for it 10 years ago; and also the raised issue that under the same land, there are underground electricity cables, sewer lines and water pipes,” Mr Lubinda said.

Mr Lubinda was hopeful that the matter would be resolved within a week and commended the residents for the manner they had handled the matter, saying it was encouraging that they did not take the law in their own hands. “I congratulate you all for not exercising violence while handling this matter. Never take the law into your hands because it just lands you into problems. Thank you for your patience,” he said.

Mr Lubinda assured the residents that he would return to the area after a week with answers they were seeking and hopefully resolve the matter by then.Mr Gondwe could not attend the meeting although he was allegedly informed, claiming he was out of the country.