Busoli Royal Establishment and Chalimbana River Headwater Conservation Trust have petitioned Water Development Minister Dennis Wanchinga to stop all illegal developments in Lusaka East’s local forest reserve.

The group of Busoli Royal Establishment Senior indunas were accompanied by Her Royal Highness Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II’s daughter Princess Ncholwe and her principal advisor John Luputa.

Speaking on behalf of Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II, Princess Ncholwe asked the Minister to order the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to enforce the stop order on Kingsland City Project in the forest.

“We are crying with what is happening in forestry 27. Chalimbana River, as you know, is the source of our water, our livelihood and so, we are here to cry in regards this concern that is affecting our people; not just in the water they drink, but in being there. Minister, we are asking you, as we plead with you that, you hear with your heart our cry! That our people are dying out of what is happening because of what man-made issues have created. The discharge going into our water, the pollution and the fecal matter are a health hazard to the lives of many people in the area. We, therefore, ask you, Minister to order ZEMA to enforce the stop order on Kingsland City Project in the forest because it seems it is being ignored through the issuance of title deeds in the said forest reserve,” Princess Ncholwe pleaded.

The Princess said allowing the development to go ahead would mean a lot of lives will be lost due to diseases that would breakout due to pollution and contaminated drinking water.

“If we let those developments go ahead, it will mean a lot of our people will die from diseases caused by pollution and contaminated drinking water. It’s not only the Royal Establishment that will be affected, but almost every person in Lusaka. We are, therefore, appealing to you, Minister, to ensure that you critically look into this issue as soon as possible and ensure that you act now before many lives are lost,” she appealed.

And Chalimbana River Headwater Conservation Trust board chairperson Robert Chimambo added that the Trust was deeply concerned with the illegal development taking place in Forest Reserve 27.

“We are deeply concerned that the portion of land in the area has been de-gazetted without following procedures. All we want know is to see how you, as the Minister, together with other line Ministry, can protect the Forest 27, which has currently been given out. We want you to stop and place a moratorium on the issuance of title deeds in the said forest reserve in order to stop speculative land exchanges now taking place,” Chimambo said.

Meanwhile, Wanchinga said his Ministry would engage Ministries of Health, Defence, Local Government in a bid to resolve the issue.

“I know that the pressure on land is very high because of the population growth. So, we have a responsibility to ensure that we strike a very good balance between accommodating this growing population and also preserving our environment. That is where us, as a Ministry and our technical people, we have a responsibility to ensure that we put in place laws and regulations that are aimed at striking this balance because without rivers, there will be no people. It’s not just about drinking water, but also we want to make sure that the water people drink is clean. So, I will be meeting with the Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defence and all the institutions that we have under our Ministry, which is ZEMA, WEMA, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company and share our thoughts on this issue,” pledged Wanchinga.

The Ministry further thanked the Busoli Royal Establishment and Chalimbana River Headwater Conservation Trust for handling the matter with care.

Among the indunas present were senior headman Maoma, senior headman Nkomesha, Headwoman Kasolo, and Headwoman Nashinangwa.

Others were Headwoman Chikonkote, Headwoman Lumbansa, Headwoman Kabeleka and Kakubo.