ZAMBIA like many African countries has not been spared from the challenges of unplanned settlements.
There are a number of interconnected aspects which have driven the advent of informal settlements in Zambia but topping the list is the growing rural-urban migration.
Apart from that, population growth, lack of inexpensive housing, weak governance, particularly in policy, planning and urban management as well as economic susceptibility are some of the causes of our illegal settlements in Zambia.
Lusaka, for instance, has lately been the centre of many inadvertent structures which are not in acquiescence with current planning and building regulations.
Because of lack of planning and legal authority before people can erect their homes, this has led to the birth of many squatter townships in the peripheral of Lusaka which look like they survived Second World War bombing.
Many such places are being developed without legal claims to the land and/or permission from the concerned authorities to build and as a result of their illegal or semi-legal status, infrastructure and services are usually laughable.
It is a fact too that in all these unplanned settlements there are many health risks due to lack of proper sewerage systems while open spaces are the places where most human excrement and household waste find their way and drinking water ends up untreated.
So the demolishing of about 12 illegal houses that have been developed on Munali Secondary School land by the Lusaka City Council spearheaded by Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo should send a strong warning that illegal structures have no room in Zambia because they put a lot of gratuitous strain on both government and local authorities.
Lusaka Town Clerk Alex Mwansa said the action was taken following directives from the Ministry of Local Government for LCC to demolish the structures with immediate effect.
Mr Mwansa said the official instructions for LCC to go ahead and demolish the structures were contained in a letter dated January 2.
He said as the planning authority, LCC remained resolute to stopping people from constructing structures without planning permission. That, we think is the only way forward.
A community leader in Munali, Bupe Banda said government had warned the developers in the area not to continue building because the land belonged to the school but unfortunately, most of the people who had put up structures defied government’s order.
He said it was a disaster and that they did not take government seriously because they were warned to stop all manner of constructions works.
“The developers were reminded on two or three occasions the minister came and toured the area. He spoke to those he found on site and reminded them that the constructions were illegal and therefore they should be stopped to avoid losing out,” he said.
Mr Banda said it was unfortunate that apart from just buying the plots, people had invested in labour and materials and had lost out, adding that it was important to be low abiding and follow laid down procedures in such matter.
He said that people should know that it was only government that was mandated to give land through the lands department and councils.
Indeed the action taken by LCC at Munali is not only most comfy but should also act as an aide-mémoire that those who flout laws of the land, will always have themselves to blame in the long run.