Chalimbana River Headwaters Conservation Trust and nine traditional leaders of the Soli people have sued Zambia Airforce Projects, Kingsland City Investment and three other construction companies in the Lusaka High Court, for carrying out construction works on Forest Reserve No.27 along Twinpalm Road.
The plaintiffs 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.
Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo and headmen Maoma, Mwampekakanya, Kapamangoma, Mukankaulwa, Kayombo, Kapuka, headwoman Kabeleka, princess Cholwe Nkomeshya of the Soli people and Chalimbana River Headwaters Conservation Trust have sued Zambia Airforce Projects, Kingsland City Investment, Drimtown Investments Limited, Shangrila Investments Limited and Datong Construction Limited.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Wednesday, the plaintiffs stated 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 under the Busoli Royal Establishment in Lusaka, and relied on the Chalimbana river.
The plaintiffs explained that Lusaka City’s public and private water was predominately sourced from its underground aquifer system unlike other areas in Zambia that relied on free flowing surface water.
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 their suit concerned an area known as ‘Forest Reserve No.27’, where a critical underground-water recharge area known as the Chalimbana River Catchment was located.
They explained that due to the importance of this water resource, a system of Forest Reserves were created and gazetted as protected Forest Reserves which included Forest Reserve No. 27 through various Statutory Instruments.
The plaintiffs stated that despite the fact that only a portion of ‘Forest Reserve No.27’ was demarcated for the Zambia Air Force, the entire ‘Forest Reserve No.27’ was de-gazetted and this led to unwarranted land grabbing and allocation of plots on the de-gazetted Forest Reserve.
They further stated that the uncontrolled activities in the area caused environmental destruction and the Chalimbana River slowly began drying up and the water table drastically lowered, adding that the President at the time, President Chiluba, ordered that ‘Forest Reserve No.27’ be re-gazetted as a local Forest Reserve.
They stated that despite this background and the environmental sensitivity of ‘Forest Reserve No.27’, a number of construction projects had recently been commissioned in the area and the main one was known as ‘the Kingsland City Project’.
“The first and second defendants (Zambia Airforce Projects and Kingsland City Investment) are the instigators of the Kingsland City Project with the third, forth and fifth defendants (Drimtown Investments Limited, Shangrila Investments Limited and Datong Construction Limited) carrying out construction works in the area through an agreement with with the Zambia Air Force Projects Limited,” read the statement of claim.
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, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (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 constriction works on the environmentally sensitive area.
They now claim for an injunction restraining the defendants from continuing with construction works in the area, an order that the defendants should obey the Protection Order, an order declaring that the developments are a threat not only to the Chalimbana River Catchment but the greater Lusaka Aquifer system, costs and any other reliefs. – ND