I would like to comment on the cutting down of trees in road reserves in Lilongwe City to pave way for the construction of a flagship 6 lane highway and its associated facilities.
1. Lilongwe City has a detailed Urban Structure/Master Plan. The plan clearly shows land use plans, including road reserves.
2. The plan was duly approved by the relevant authority as such it is a binding legal document.
3. Some ornamental trees were planted in road reserves with an understanding that those which will interfere with road expansion will be removed.
4. Trees being cut are the ones which were planted in the road reserve and are interfering with road construction.
5. Lilongwe is experiencing tortuous vehicles queues, narrow pedestrian walks, diminished cycle paths, broken storm drainage systems, makeshift taxi stops, non-existent emergency pullovers, etc. due to among other challenges: narrow and shoulderless roads and poor road designs and construction. Fortunately, planners had already designated some parcels of land as road reserves.
6. To solve these problems, the government has embarked on various projects to expand, extend and/or improve city roads.
7. Consequently, trees that were planted in the road reserves have been affected.
So what is the issue?
Some colleagues are of the view that trees planted in the road reserves should be left standing. Instead, the state-of-the-art 6 lane highway should either meander around these trees or be diverted into land zoned for other uses including commercial and protected areas. Absolute senseless!!!
What is indeed wrong, however, is failure to undertake and submit an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment/Environmental Management Plan and development proposal to relevant authorities for approval as required by the law. Fortunately, these omissions are curable by the same law.
I beg to move.