NINE headmen in Chongwe and a company have sought an injunction in the Lusaka High Court to restrain Zambia Air Force Projects Limited and four others from continuing construction works or further developments in the area.
Moses Lukwanda, who is senior headman Maoma, senior headman Nkomenshya and eight others are seeking an order that the five defendants should obey protection order of September 22, 2017 and an order declaring that the developments are a threat not only to the Chalimbana river catchment but greater Lusaka Aquifer System.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the Busoli people and the general public have a right to access clean and uncontaminated water for their consumption, which is threatened by the impugned development by the defendants.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration to prevent the defendants from continuing construction works in the environmentally sensitive area.
In a statement of claim filed in the principal registry, senior headman Maoma and others stated that the first to ninth plaintiffs were members of the Busoli Royal Establishment’s chiefdom lands committee and headmen and head women in various villages of the Soli people who rely on the Chalimbana river.
The plaintiffs stated that the 10th plaintiff, Chalimbana River Headwaters Conservation Trust Limited, was incorporated for the purpose of conservation of the Chalimbana river.
The plaintiff stated that Lusaka City’s public and private water was predominantly sourced from the underground aquifer system.
He stated that the Lusaka underground aquifer system faces the risk of depletion due to increased urbanisation and population growth and the city of Lusaka and its population would face a major water shortage.
The plaintiffs stated that due to the importance of the 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, specifically under Statutory Instrument No. 272 of 1957 in order to preserve the critical aquifer.
They stated that in 1983, it was re-gazetted forest reserve No. 27 under the plan that the piece of that land, specifically 800 hectares of demarcated plot would be used by the military (ZAF) for training but the entire forest reserve no. 27 was de-gazetted, which led to unwarranted land grabbing and allocation of plots on the forest.
The plaintiffs stated that later, the late Frederick Chiluba ordered that Forest Reserve No 27 be re-gazetted as a local forest reserve under Statutory Instrument no. 161 of 1996 in order to preserve the aquifer.
They stated that despite the above background and the environmental sensitivity of Forest Reserve no. 27, a number of construction projects have recently been commissioned in the area and the main one was known as Kingsland City project headed by ZAF Projects Limited and the second defendant while the third, fourth, and fifth defendants were carrying out the construction works through an agreement with ZAF Projects Limited.
The plaintiffs stated that the defendants did not comply with Environmental Impact Assessments prior to commencement of the developments.
He also stated that the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) issued a Protection order on September 22, 2017, ordering the third, fourth and fifth defendants to stop construction works and restore the area to its previous state but the defendants have never complied and continue to carry out construction works on the environmental sensitive area.
The plaintiffs stated that as a result of the construction going on, there has been water contamination from effluent discharge of the ZAF Twin Palm Housing Project, which was next to Kingsland Project and destruction of the forest which was likely to affect others rivers and impact members of the public and thus, they want an order of injunction to restrain the project and any other reliefs the court might deem fit.