The State has denied allegations by nine Chongwe traditional leaders and Chalimbana Headwaters Conservation Trust that it did not comply with the law regarding Environmental Impact Assessments prior to the commencement of the Kingsland City Project.
It has further denied claims that the construction works abrogate the plaintiffs’ right to a clean, safe and healthy environment under section 4 of the Environmental Management Act.
This is a matter in which, Chalimbana Headwaters Conservation Trust and nine traditional leaders of the Soli people 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.
The plaintiffs have also sued Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Water Resources Management Authority and the Attorney General.
Moses Lukwanda, who is senior headman Maoma, senior headman Nkomenshya and eight others are seeking among other reliefs, an order that the defendants should obey the Protection Order of September 2019, and an order declaring that the developments are a threat not only to the Chalimbana River Catchment but the greater Lusaka Aquifer system.
The plaintiffs stated in their statement of claim that they were at all material times members of the Busoli Royal Establishment Chiefdom Lands Committee, as well as, headmen and headwomen in various villages of Soli people, and relied on the Chalimbana river.
They stated that without the protection and preservation of water recharge areas, the aquifer faces the risk of depletion and that Lusaka city with its growing population would face a major water shortage.
The plaintiffs stated that the defendants did not comply with the law regarding Environmental Impact Assessments prior to the commencement of the developments as no public hearings were held as required by the law.
They stated that as a result of this, ZEMA issued a Protection Order, ordering Drimtown Investments Limited, Shangrila Investments Limited and Datong Construction Limited to stop construction works and restore the area to its previous state.
The plaintiffs stated that despite the issuance of the Protection Order, the defendants had never complied and continued to carry out construction works on the environmentally sensitive area.
But in its defence filed in the Lusaka High Court on February 26, the State admitted that Forest Reserve No.27 was de-gazetted for purposes utilizing part of it as a training facility.
Attorney General Likando Kalaluka further admitted only to the extent that a protection order was issued by ZEMA to ensure that conditions were being complied with.
He denied the plaintiffs’ claims that the defendants did not comply with the law regarding Environmental Impact Assessments prior to the commencement of the developments as no public hearings were held as required by the law.
Kalaluka also denied the plaintiffs’ claims that as a result of the construction works going on in the area, there had been water contamination from effluent discharge of the ZAF Twin Palm Housing Project, which was next to Kingsland City Project as well as destruction of the forest which would affect the general public’s access to clean and safe water.
He stated that the plaintiffs would be put to strict proof.
“Save as herein specifically admitted, the eighth defendant denies each and every allegation contained in the plaintiffs statement of claim as if the same where set out separately and denied seriatim,” Kalaluka stated.
On February 17, this year, the Court of Appeal granted an injunction restraining the continued works at Kingsland City.
Delivering his ruling, Court of Appeal judge Mubanga Kondolo said the Kingsland City, regardless of the magnitude of the project, does not enjoy State immunity from injunction.
“Taking into account my opinion that where there is a danger of serious harm to the environment, irreparable injury need not be proved and the fact that damage to the environment presents potential and on going harm to both present and future generations, I find that the balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicants,” he stated.
“The application for an injunction is successful and the first to fifth respondents are restrained from continuing works on the area covered by the decision letter issued to the first respondent (ZAF Projects Limited) on February 7, 2019.”