Catholic Diocese of Ndola Bishop Benjamin Phiri has expressed his sadness over the recent demolition of over 300 housing structures that were illegally built on land housing the Kasompe Airstrip in Chingola.
Chingola Municipal Council on 20th August, 2022 demolished over 300 structures illegally built on the Kasompe Airstrip, a land on title and belonging to Zambia Civil Aviation Authority.
Many people have condemned the council for not arresting the illegal allocation of land and subsequent construction of houses way back when the illegality started around 2012.
Commenting on the demolition, Bishop Phiri said the Kasompe demolition issue was a collective of bad decisions by the parties involved.
The Bishop said people who illegally allocated land on the airstrip land were wrong together with those who built illegal structures and the council that demolished the structures.
Bishop Phiri, a Canon Lawyer, demanded that justice prevails in the Kasompe saga.
“I was particularly saddened recently when I heard about what happened in Kasompe, Chingola. I was greatly saddened. I did not apportion blame but it is indeed a very sad event. It is a collection of a series of bad decisions by various stakeholders. The first bad decision was by whoever apportioned land illegally, that was the first bad decision. The second bad decision was for those people who went to buy that land without the papers. That was also a bad decision. The third and concluding bad decision was by those who are responsible in the local authority to decide to erase more than 300 houses at the same time,” Bishop Phiri said during Mass in Chililabombwe.
He said some officers at Chingola Council must be held accountable for allowing an illegality to happen over the years.
“They (Council) should have consulted further. We should have sat down as stakeholders to find the best way forward. My challenge to you, the women and I know that some of the people in the local government are women; my challenge is when these illegal structures are being put up where are you? You seem to wake up only when the structure has been finished. You should be able to observe when it is starting and that is what you are paid for. That is your job. For you to wake up only when people have built up and have lived there for many years then that is when you realise that actually they have built in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Bishop Phiri added that the efforts being made by some organs of government to solve a problem which they have created is not necessarily a merit.
“I think that if it was up to me I would start by punishing those for failing to do their work. For an illegal to happen it is because somebody did not do their work his or her somewhere and that is very sad. We hope that the Government is going to do everything possible to ensure that justice is done. Jumping on board with the different organs of government to solve a problem which you have created yourself is not necessarily a merit; however, justice can still be done,” Bishop Phiri said.
Last week, Copperbelt-based Catholic Priest Fr. Francis Mwansa Mufwaya said it is a mockery for the Government to offer support to victims of the Chingola housing demolition through Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU).
Commenting on the demolition, Fr. Mufwaya, who has previously served at Kasompe Catholic Church in Chingola, said it an anomaly that the same government that has demolished houses in Kasompe is consoling people by dangling DMMU support.