Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata says the Chalimbana River source is not affected by the de-gazettion of Forest 27 as it is surrounded by over 1,000 hectares of land.

The Lusaka East Forest Reserve, or Forest Reserve Number 27, was created in order to protect the headwaters of the Chalimbana River, which drains most of the area east of the city, and was de-gazetted when President Lungu signed SI No 62 of 2017.

But in his State of the Nation address to Parliament, Friday, President Lungu directed the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to ensure that water sources were not adulterated by corporate entities or individuals in the name of development.

“We need to acknowledge that some of the environmental problems are man-made. Corporate institutions and individual citizens tend to ignore environmental impact of their commercial or individual activities, which they conduct adjacent to our water sources. In this regard, I am directing the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection to take lead in ensuring that our water sources and the land adjacent to these areas are not adulterated by corporate entities or individuals in the name of development,” said President Lungu.

“Honourable Ministers, and your permanent secretaries of the above mentioned ministries, ensure that the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), and the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), realigns themselves to effectively carry out their mandate and produce the required results, today and not tomorrow. From today, henceforth, I shall not see a house or, indeed, a factory being built adjacent to our water resource, depriving the majority of other Zambians of usage of this resource.”

Reacting to the address in an interview, Kapata said the Head of State’s directive applied everywhere, but insisted that the Chalibana River was safe.

“First of all, what I would like to tell you is that, it applies everywhere. But the land in question that you are talking about, there is 1,000 hectares that surrounds the water source in that area, and according to ZEMA, 50 meters away from a stream and 1,000 hectares. So, that should answer your question. Going forward, we are writing letters to all the districts, through the Local Government Ministry and also local authorities, to give us reports on water bodies’ buffer zones, which have been encroached so that we can take action immediately as a Ministry,” said Kapata.