By Loness Gwazanga, MANA
Communities around Matindi in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Kapeni have finally allowed government to use part of their land to construct the much waited Matindi Industrial Park.
The development has come after the project faced strong resistance, especially from people living in Chimaimba Village who said were not ready to move out of their ancestral land.
This, according to Blantyre District Commissioner, Bennett Nkasala, forced government to trim the number of hectares needed for the project from 280 to 130 in order to allow the people have the freedom to stay on their inherited land while benefiting from the fruits of the intended development.
Speaking during a sensitization meeting, Senior Chief Kapeni assured that his subjects have agreed to pave way for the project as they now feel safe about their ever appreciating property (pockets of land).
“The process has not been easy at all and I have been labelled as an enemy of progress because the people had fears of the unknown. But now am glad that they have understood the intension of the project.
“Government is now free to commence the project at the intended site. The people have now provided land for the project,” said Kapeni.
On his part, Nkasala commended people in the area for making a very sound decision to allow government utilise the land, describing the journey as difficult.
“If it were a marriage proposal, I would have given up. The whole process drained all our efforts as it seemed impossible but I’m now happy that they have finally given in for the project,” Nkasala said.
Nkasala said they shall soon conduct a survey and install beacons on the land to establish how many people shall be compensated, among other logistics.
Blantyre North East Member of Parliament, Fidson Chisesele applauded the community for making a U-turn on the previous decision, saying the project is the only way that can help improve their livelihoods in all aspects.
Government with assistance from the African Export – Import Bank (Afreximbank) plans to construct the park alongside an International Airport with a Five-Star Hotel in Mangochi as well as another industrial park at Area 55 in Lilongwe, including Liwonde Dry Port.