Mchinji District Forest Office on Monday impounded a Malawi Housing Cooperation (MHC) maintenance vehicle (tanker) for dumping sewage in Mchinji Forest Reserve.
The MHC maintenance vehicle registration number 3 SC 183 was seen by one of the district’s forest guards who reported the matter to the district office.
Deputy Director of Forest responsible for Central Region Stella Gama has confirmed with Malawi News Agency of the incident and disclosed that the development was contrary to Section 44 of the Forestry Act of 1997 where it states ‘Unless under-license, no person shall deposit litter or noxious waste in forest, protected forest areas and village forest areas’.
Section 72 of the same Act says that ‘Any person who contravenes the provisions of section 44 shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine of K500, 000 and imprisonment of ten years.’
“Once the file is brought before the court, we expect that the case will be dealt with accordingly as this is a serious offence and its total violation of the Forestry Act,” she said.
Environmental Management Act of 1996 under Section 44 states that ‘No person shall pollute or permit or cause any other person to pollute the environment’ hence the penalty costs the offender to pay a fine of not less than K20, 000 and not more than K1,000,000 and to imprisonment to ten years.
Responding on the matter, the District Housing Officer, Fredrick Kamchacha conceded the act, saying for a period of five years he has been in the district; he still remains ignorant of where to dump the sewage, hence allowing the driver to dump into the forest.
“I know nothing on where to dump sewage in the district since the time I came here. I allowed the driver to dump the sewage at the usual place without knowing it was in the forest reserve,” he said.
Mchinji District Deputy Environment Health Officer, Bright Mkomba expressed concern on the same, saying the malpractice will put lives of nearby villages at risk of contracting diseases since it has been washed away by running water to downstream areas considering that this was rainy season.
According to the driver of the vehicle, the vehicle was impounded on the fourth trip the same day and that he had been dumping the sewage in the forest reserve for more than five years without the vehicle being impounded.
The vehicle is from Blantyre Malawi Housing Cooperation, it comes in Mchinji every year to collect the solid and liquid wastes since the Lilongwe vehicle stopped working.