Zambia Air Force Projects Limited and two other companies constructing the Kingsland City project have submitted to the Lusaka High Court that the nine Chongwe traditional leaders that have sued them for building on a forest reserve are not entitled to the claims they are seeking.

The defendants have told the Court that appropriate measures were taken as required by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) in order for the project not to have adverse effects on the environment.

This is the matter in which Chalimbana River Headwaters Conservation Trust and nine traditional leaders of the Soli people have sued Zambia Airforce Projects Limited and Kingsland City Investment for carrying out construction works on a forest reserve.

Other companies sued include: Drimtown Investments Limited, Shangrila Investments Limited and Datong Construction Limited.

Moses Lukwanda, who is senior headman Maoma, senior headman Nkomenshya and eight others are seeking an injunction restraining the defendants from continuing with the construction of the Kingsland City Project in the area, and an order declaring that the developments are a threat not only to the Chalimbana River catchment, but the greater Lusaka aquifer system.

On July 29, this year, Lusaka High Court Judge Mwila Chitabo vacated the interim injunction, which was granted to the plaintiffs, restraining Zambia Air Force Projects Limited and others from carrying out any further constructions works on a forest reserve.

And in the defendants’ defence filed on August 9 and 12, this year, ZAF Projects Limited, Drimtown Investments Limited and Shangrila Investments Limited argued that the plaintiffs were not entitled to the reliefs being sought in their statement of claim and further denied each and every allegation by the plaintiffs.

The trio denied certain paragraphs in the plaintiffs’ statement of claim, arguing that appropriate measures had been taken into consideration as required by ZEMA for the project not to have adverse effects on the environment.

ZAF Projects Limited explained that government acting through it, entered into concession agreement with the other defendants for the development of the said project.

It stated that all the attendant laws were fully complied with prior to commencing construction works on the subject property.

“ZAF Projects Limited shall aver at trial that the defendants petitioned ZEMA to rescind the protection order in issue and resultantly ZEMA issued its decision letter on February 7, 2019, where in it re-approved the project subject to the conditions contained therein. The developers have complied with the conditions set by ZEMA in its decision letter of February 7, 2019. ZAF Projects Limited shall further aver that the said decision letter vitiated the legal effect of the protection order,” ZAF Projects Limited stated.

Meanwhile, Drimtown and Shangrila Investments Limited admitted that Kingsland City project was underway on the duly de-gazetted area of Forest Reserve No. 27 for which the defendants had certificate of title.

The duo added that the developments were pursuant to a Public Private Partnership Act, 2009, and in strict compliance with all attendant laws, but also in accordance with a concession agreement with ZAF Projects Limited.

Drimtown and Shangrila Investments Limited admitted that they were some of the proponents of the Kingsland City project after all due processes were followed that includes, complying with all environmental laws.

“Drimtown and Shangrila Investments Limited shall aver that the conditions set out in the decision letter by ZEMA have been complied with and a decision letter has been issued to that effect. The third and fourth defendants deny that the plaintiffs are entitled to the reliefs sought in their statement of claim,” stated Drimtown and Shangrila Investments Limited.