LANDS Minister Elijah Muchima has insisted that there is no money at the moment to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment on Forest 27.

In an interview, Muchima called for patience among members of the public, saying an assessment was not something that should be forced on government to carry out now because it was a costly venture.

“The Environmental Impact Assessment is a very costly venture; it requires a lot of money. An assessment we have been given is US$500,000, this money cannot come from the coffers of GRZ, we have no money at the moment. We are working with cooperating partners and WWF and we are also in signage with our colleagues in the Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation, Local Government and Green Economy. Mr (William) Harrington, the former minister brought up documentation to that regard, but people are forgetting that there was even a court ruling on the same matter. It is not something that we should force government [to] do now, it is a costly venture,” Muchima said.

“But that committee is already in place, but what of essence is money, if money is available that can be done. And also, honourable Harrington has brought up a documentation about some report which was done a long time ago. And also we hear Chongwe River is dry, those you cannot speculate, but you need to go in-depth to establish what exactly is there, public interest is there, but how do you back it up? You have to weigh with the decision taken and how do you reverse it? If you reverse it in a hurry, you end up compensating people a lot of money. We need to have a concrete decision when it is taken, even the court can also favour your decision. This is a government of laws. I am just urging the public to be patient. How do we put a time frame when we are sourcing for money? When you are convincing people to help you to do one or two things?”

And Muchima said his ministry was also looking at the issue of double allocation of land, which had caused confusion.

“In the country there is need to carry out land audit to determine the pieces of land that are still customary and the pieces of land that are in the hands of the State. That was imperative for us to know boundaries. The challenge of the ministry is the system which had become porous, which has been compromised by the workers. You cannot track transactions easily. There has been confusion of double allocation, this one also involves the councils which are agents of the Ministry of Lands. So, double allocation is something that we are looking at,” said Muchima.