Land Owner Demands K300 Million From Likoma District Council
Dust is failing to settle at Likoma District Council following waves of demands for money in form of compensations and fines from landowners after the district council utilized some of their pieces of land for infrastructure development.
A fresh demand of K300 million has just arrived from the royal family of Sub Traditional Authority (STA) Mwase barely a few months after the council showed unwillingness to pay another family after the council had shown intentions to pass access road and water pipeline through their land to a newly constructed community technical college, a development that halted the college to officially open in the 2022 academic calendar.
Signed by Boston Kamchacha who is STA, Mwase and eleven other family members have written the council Secretariat asking for compensation for building Chima Community Health center on land which they earlier offered as a gift.
Dated 22 February 2022 and addressed to Likoma District Commissioner (DC) Eric Nemar, the royal family has claimed that the letter seeks to remind the council authorities that their family members want to use the money to purchase another land.
"We did not give that land for free, what I remember is that we agreed that the council would give us a token of appreciation but up to now there are no signs of willingness to pay," Kamchacha explained.
He added that due to delays the family has decided to charge them in form of compensation.
The royal family offered the land to bail out of the district council which was in dire need of land in order to have a health infrastructure of a Malawian flag carrier after the existing health facilities at Likoma and Chizumulu Islands are owned by the church.
The spokesperson at Likoma District Council, Ireen Mseteka has confirmed that Likoma district council has received the said letter.
She said at the meantime the council Secretariat has no immediate response to the claims.
"No immediate reaction but the letter has been received by the DC," she said.
Although they have not indicated an ultimatum in a separate interview the traditional leader said it is a one-month notice and failing to respond according to their desired expectation they will take back the land.
"We have seen government compensating land holding individuals on public land, what can prevent them [district council ] to compensate us on our land which has no strings attached with public Land?" he wondered. Adding that, "most lands in the island district belong to a mission and individuals."
But Area Development Committee (ADC) chairperson for the South of Likoma island where the health facility was built Mathews Manyuka, wondered why the royal family decided to demand money when they offered land for free.
He said seeking compensation and charging a fine are different issues.
"I can not comment further on the matter because the letter was not addressed to me but as someone who has received the copy I find authors of that letter failing to understand their own need," Mathews Manyuka said. "You can not charge compensation on a given land but the receiver only appreciates with a certain amount of token"
Chima community is the only government health center that was built three years ago to serve the under-five children, women, and the elderly who hardly walk long distances to seek health services at St. Peters mission hospital on the Island.