By CHILA NAMAIKO –
GOVERNMENT has directed Choma Municipal Council to stop allocating land in undesignated areas and to desist from other practices that are stifling infrastructure development.
Lands Minister Harry Kalaba has said Choma, being the capital of Southern Province, should have modern infrastructure to befit its status in accordance with Government’s desire.
Mr Kalaba has since directed Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) in Batoka State land area in Choma to release idle land to Choma Municipal Council for infrastructure development.
He gave the surveyor-general and the commissioner of lands a seven-day ultimatum in which to assess the idle land at GART.
Mr Kalaba issued the directive in Choma at the weekend when he toured GART on a fact-finding mission.
The tour followed reports that the council in Choma had run out of land for expansion.
“This land is required urgently. As GART, you have to discuss with the council and know how much idle land you can give out.
“But is it important that as a council, you ask for land which is reasonable so that this place can still run as an animal breeding centre for our farmers,” he said.
Mr Kalaba urged the council to find an alternative place for the settlers around the institute and not to displace the residents in the process of giving out land.
The minister said Government’s intention was to see development across the country taking place massively, and that Choma was not an exception.
He expressed sadness at the slow pace of infrastructure development in Choma and warned that Government would not condone those frustrating its efforts.
Mr Kalaba directed the local authority to use the land it would acquire from GART for the intended purpose of spurring infrastructure development.
“As a council, you are supposed to be our agent but instead it’s the same council giving us problems, you are allocating land in undesignated areas that’s how come almost all the land is in private hands,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said Government was in a hurry to develop Choma because the residents were anxious to benefit from on-going massive developmental projects.
District Commissioner Bernadette Hamweemba said critical shortage of land in Choma had hindered development.
Ms Hamweemba said most of the land was in the hands of the private sector, but assured that the administration would accelerate infrastructure development.
Chief Singani appealed to the ministry of Lands to consider surveying about five farms which had been idle since the early 1990s.