PALAPYE: Newly-serviced Palapye areas are facing a serious challenge of mushrooming of improper one-roomed houses built without council approval.
The authorities of the area find themselves in a situation where residents violate regulations by building unapproved structures while at the same time such permanent structures warrant approval by the Land Board.
Such structures are common, especially in the newly serviced Extension 11 where most residents have constructed improper one-roomed houses to prevent repossession of their plots for failure to develop without following proper channels with council.
Since Palapye has been declared a planning area any development must pass through council’s planning services. However, this does not happen. Senior assistant council secretary, Lucky Maoto has said this is a serious concern because it denies the local authority the opportunity to increase its own revenue sources because such plot owners do not pay the expected plan perusal fees.
“They are supposed to submit their plans for approval by council and pay that fee, but they bypass this regulation and this constitutes illegal development. Failure to go through council for plan approval could eventually lead to demolition of those structures,” he said. He also said that some residents even go to an extent of building pit latrines that are not allowed in planning areas.
Maoto said it is necessary for council to approve plans to ensure that structures meet minimum standards that are proportional to plot sizes. “Land Board approves a plot when it has structure while we on the other hand have an authority to determine if the structures are habitable,” he said. He also added that they are constrained by resources to enforce the law on those violating the Act.
He also observed a new trend of sub-division of plots by owners and said this is illegal because the plots end up failing to meet set standards resulting in irregular sizes impeding some services. “Another observation is that some plot owners in prime areas and surrounding farms do not develop their plots in anticipation that developments would eventually reach them and warrant compensation when they are relocated,” he said.
Maoto regretted that this results in cases of encroachment and double allocations and sometimes it is very difficult to trace owners. He added that it also robs the village of the opportunities it could be deriving if the plots were developed.
He emphasised the need for the Land Board to enforce its laws for plot owners to develop them and for Council to be able
Meanwhile, Maoto said the village continues to experience mushrooming of both planned and unplanned, but very important projects and said whatever they do as council is towards realising the dream of Palapye becoming a town.
He added that both the administrative and political wing have presented the proposal in different forums. “The proposal is already with government structures but there are certain criteria that have to be met, for instance Palapye is still a tribal land and has to convert to communal land to qualify to be a town. Everything we do is driving towards qualifying in all aspects to become a town,” he said.
All the P10 million that was allocated to the constituency last year has been invested in improving the standard of roads in the village to facilitate mobility to keep up with the development pace. Maoto said the economic boom has resulted in a large volume of applications for change of land use from residential to commercial or multi-residential, as owners want to tap into available business opportunities.
Council is also experiencing a lot of pressure for submission of architects and drawing at its physical planning department and cannot cope with the demand for the services of its building inspectors who also service 27 villages surrounding Palapye. “We are also envisioning a dual carriage way, under a joint venture arrangement with investors, along the A1 road to facilitate traffic flow. The roads have proven to be inadequate, hence we want to expand them and we are negotiating with other investors to explore this opportunity,” he said.
Maoto said they are constrained by the budget to effectively carry out some development and cited the P104 million recurrent budget as inadequate, a chunk of it going towards addressing destitution. “Contrary to the economic boom, an unusual trend showing is that destitution is increasing instead of abating,” he said.
He added that an increase in the population that has been exacerbated by the BCL Mine closure is putting pressure on services the Council is offering as evidenced by the student-teacher ratio in schools going up and also calling for increase of classrooms and toilets. The pressure is also felt in other government facilities.