JUST the other week the media was awash with images of razed houses as various councils swung into action to bring down illegally constructed structures.
Many urban residents are under the misplaced belief that construction is the safest way of securing ownership of land and unfortunately this skewed thinking has resulted in loss of resources and personal property once the law is enforced.
Although the Lusaka City Council facilitated the process, the demolition of 23 structures in Ngwere area was initiated by Zambia Railways Limited because illegal developers had encroached on Zambia Railways land contrary to the law.
The obvious option to secure land ownership would be to follow laid down procedures while complying with council statutes, unfortunately many “lalndlords” continue to exist outside the law.
LCC has since made a commendable decision to reduce fees that regularise the ownership of unplanned settlements from K7,000 to K2,500.
The proposal to reduce the fee was made by LCC management after noticing that the affected developers were failing to pay the fee leading to them to failing to collect occupancy licences.
LCC Public Relations manager George Sichimba said that the local authority charged regularisation fee on all developers in unplanned settlements so that their structures and settlements can be regularised for them to obtain ownership documents.
“At the moment 300 occupancy licences remain uncollected in the Council Deeds Registry because owners have failed to pay a conditional regularisation fee,” he said.
“LCC hopes that the affected developers will take advantage of the Council’s gesture to promptly pay the revised fees and obtain ownership documents.”
He said that the approval to reduce the fee was passed by the Administrator, Mr Nixon Nkwapu, sitting as Council during the Second Ordinary Council meeting held in the Council Chamber on Friday.
Mr Sichimba said that the resolution has been made in the spirit of empowering the citizenry with property ownership in line with the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP).
He stated that the proposal to reduce the fee was made by LCC management after noticing that the affected developers were failing to pay the fee leading to them to failing to collect occupancy licences.
Hopefully, the initiative aimed at empowering citizens with house ownership will achieve the intended goal.
The K2,500 fee will hopefully be utilised by the council to ensure that basic services can be extended to these unplanned settlements that very often have no options for running water or sewer systems.
The council has demonstrated their good will to residents of Lusaka and what should now follow is for the property owners to formalise their relationship with the municipal offices and begin to contribute to the revenue base of that office.
All citizens know that they must pay a role in maintaining law and order in the community and they should not take it for granted that the council is a toothless body that will continue to allow lawlessness.
The occupancy licenses will allow owners to gain legal recognition but their continued stay is highly dependent on them abiding by council regulations.
A reduction of the regularisation fee from K7,000 to K2,500 truly highlights the good will and progressive mind-set of the council.
It will be crucial for property owners to cooperate with LCC in further development of their settlements.