More than 100 housing units built on the foot of the Kapata hills around Muthilansembe area in Chipata district are on the verge of collapse due to a huge gully that has developed closer to the houses.
Chipata District Commissioner (DC) Kalunga Zulu visited Muthilansembe and directed the affected families to vacate their homes before a disaster occurs.
Mr. Zulu has warned that the houses that are located close to the gully filled with running water might collapse any time if the area experiences heavy rains again.
He observed that the gully has developed due to running water from the hills. This has been caused by land degradation due to cutting down of trees to clear land for agriculture on top of the hill.
“It is due to the cutting down of trees and farming activities in the nearby hill that has led to the creation of the gully,” Mr. Zulu said.
The DC has further advised people who have settled on the foot of the Kapata hills to desist from cutting down trees in order to arrest land degradation that is occurring at a faster rate and posing a danger to human habitat.
He has also advised the residents of Muthilansembe to start replanting trees on the hill top.
In addition, Mr. Zulu told the affected people of Muthilansembe area that the government means well when it advises them to stop cultivating from hilly areas because it is intended to avoid a pending calamity.
He has further advised the people around the area to stop their farming activities on the hills and start replanting trees to safeguard their settlement and houses from being swept away by landslides.
“We should start a programme of planting trees with the young boys and girls to avoid the problem again in the near future because if this continues, our children will suffer,” he said.
The DC has meanwhile told the people around the area to quickly report any dangerous situation as a result of land degradation to avoid a calamity that might lead to loss of lives.
And Mr. Zulu has assured the people, whose houses are closer to the gully, that his team and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), will put in place partial intervention measures as they wait for the rain season to be over before they can bring in heavy machinery to bury the gully.
“We cannot bring any heavy machinery to come and work on this gully. We will have to wait till the rains are gone. For now, we can only come up with a partial solution as we are waiting for this season to end,” Mr. Zulu said.
He has also asked ZESCO to disconnect electricity immediately from the affected nearby houses before they collapse.
Meanwhile, one of the affected residents, Janet Njobvu expressed concern saying the gully has been increasing in size since 2018.
“The gully grows big every year and we have been facing this problem since 2018 but this time it is worse,” she said.
Ms. Njobvu has since appealed to the government to quickly look into the matter and help the affected families.
Ms. Nelia Daka, another Muthilansembe resident, narrated that she has lived in the area for 10 years and the gully, which now looks like a stream, only started developing in 2018.
“This gully is now a stream and recently, a 13-year-old boy died in the gully. The government should kindly come in and help us,” she said.