By Paul Shalala in Mufulira
|One of the demolished houses|
Over one thousand residents of New Kalukanya area of Mufulira District are leaving in fear following threats by the Mufulira Municipal Council to demolish their houses.
The residents built their houses in an illegal settlement, which the Council has described as an encroachment.
One of the residents who lost her houses in a recent demolition exercise Emeldah Mulenga tearfully complained to ZNBC News that her house which she built from retirement benefits was demolished without notice.
"I constructed a slab for my house using retirement benefits my late husband left me with. Now the council has demolished it. I have even suffered a stroke which has left me with a painful eye," cried Mrs Mulenga who spoke in Bemba.
In November 2014, the Council demolished houses which were constructed illegally.
But residents are up in arms with the local authority for allowing them to pay fees for land which has now been deemed illegal.
"We are suffering here. We need the President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to intervene in our plight. Why should we suffer in our own land?" said Elizabeth Chungu, who also lost a house.
The land issue in New Kalukanya has taken a new twist as the local authority is now re-demarcating and selling the plots to new owners.
Chairperson of the displaced residents Henry Chanda says the action by the council is suspicious.
"Why are they shifting beacons? Why are they selling our plots to people we dont know? This is a syndicate. We will not accept this," said Mr Chanda.
But Mufulira Municipal Council Assistant Public Relations Manager Melvin Mukela says the local authority is doing everything possible to legalise the area but residents have not been cooperative.
"We have called for several meetings but the residents don't show up. We have now asked them to pay K12,500 as penalty fee so that we can give them plot numbers and start processing their title deeds as a way of legalising the settlement," said Mr Mukela.
On Tuesday, the residents effected citizens arrest on two buildings inspectors from the Council who were found analysing plots in New Kalukanya and they were handed over to the Police.