After a prolonged delay, Zomba City Council (ZCC) has this year joined Blantyre City Council (BCC) in demolishing
and renovating all dilapidated and old buildings in the City as part of the Red Star Campaign.
Confirming the development in an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Wednesday, Director of Planning and Development (DPD) for ZCC Fred Nankuyu said discussions with relevant stakeholders to renew the city by dealing with old buildings from central business and institutional areas have started.
Nankuyu said the new thing in this campaign is that the city will involve all the stakeholders including communities to avoid bad reactions and accusations.
“We have planned to set up a committee of stakeholders comprised of experts and communities which will handle the process of urban renewal by identifying buildings and informing the owners before they are marked with a red star,” said Nankuyu.
The campaign will be different from that of BCC in a sense that it will target both buildings from commercial areas as well as all buildings (houses and offices) which were built during the colonial era.
“ZCC will target all the old and dilapidated buildings which are not bringing beauty to the city including houses at Mangasanja and all government offices of that nature. Some of these buildings will be demolished while others will just need some maintenance or renovation,” he said.
According to Nankuyu, some of the government offices to be affected are; Physical Planning, Zomba Police station and Eastern Region Police Headquarters where some will be renovated while others will be demolished.
The red star campaign which Zomba City is yet to conduct will also make sure that all the historical structures which have some architectural aspect have been renovated.
The DPD also revealed that the ZCC committee of stakeholders will firstly visit Blantyre City Council to learn how it has been conducting the campaign and appreciate its progress and challenges.
Zomba based Asian Communities reacted angrily when ZCC wanted to start the campaign in 2012.
According to one of the Asian residents in Zomba who spoke on condition of anonymity, the campaign is good but they wondered why Zomba City only targeted their shops in 2012.
‘’We reacted angrily because they only targeted us (Asians) leaving out their old houses and offices which are also in dilapidated states than ours,” he said.
Also commenting on the same issue was District Tourism Officer for Zomba Young Chiwindo who said old historical structures promote tourism in the country but need to be maintained every time to attract visitors.
Chiwindo cited an example of Gymkhana Club and Hotel Masongola which have historical backgrounds but management fails to maintain them properly.
Zomba residents have been accusing City Authorities for lacking interest in developing the city due to selfish leadership.
Some of the concerned citizens said the city lacks facilities such as strong bridges, street lights, curvets, a community stadium and is failing to expand its city boundaries among other things.
In his response, Nankuyu said the city has plans to expand the boundaries and preserve and maintain all the historical buildings such as the War Memorial Tower.
Zomba is one of the cities in Malawi which is developing very slowly compared to other cities like Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. (Synd Kalimbuka, Zomba, January 4, Mana)