BY SILUMESI MALUMO
WE shall investigate how land under the Zesco pole lines near Praise Worship Centre in Lusaka was given to a Chinese firm to build a mall, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata has said.
The land belongs to the Chainama Hospital, which the Presidential Housing Initiative was allowed to build structures following extensive invasion by squatters.
A shocked senior PHI official told the Daily Nation that strict instructions were given at the commencement of the construction that a large leeway should be provided to distance Zesco powerlines from the housing development and a fence was subsequently constructed to stop any development.
The minister said she would ensure that she got to the bottom of the matter and establish how the Chinese firm bought the land in question.
Residents in PHI area in Lusaka blocked the Chinese developer from constructing a shopping mall on land dubiously allocated by the Lusaka City Council.
The residents have mounted security to ensure that the developer did not have access to the land.
Lusaka City Council Public Relations Manager, George Sichimba, confirmed that the Chinese developer had rights to the land because he had title deeds from the Ministry of Lands.
But Ms Jacqueline Chishimba, a PHI neighbourhood watch member, said Lusaka City Council refused to sell the land in question to residents to set up a youth centre.
The council, she said, advised that the area was not safe because it was under Zesco pole lines but surprisingly the local authority sold the same plot to a Chinese firm to construct a mall.
But in an interview yesterday, Ms Kapata said, “We can’t allow that to happen, I will ensure that I investigate and get to the bottom of the matter.
“Things are not supposed to be done like that, but let me assure you that I will in- vestigate so that the matter can be resolved. I will also engage the Munali Member of Parliament Professor Nkandu Luo so that we see what can be done,” she said.