Move out! govt tells retailers
MBABANE – There will be a big traffic circle built in Mbhadlane along the new highway that leads to the under construction Sikhu-phe International Airport.
Consequently, government has instructed all retailers and building owners (more than five of them) to vacate the shopping complex area approximately the size of three football fields.
Originally, the homesteads on the route to Sikhuphe were the ones mostly affected, but changes in the architectural plans of the highway project have now included the complex area to a greater extent.
Paul Nkambule, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said this was necessitated by a revised plan to construct a major connection point where vehicles coming from Manzini en route to Siteki or to the airport would go through. He said the intersection would take the format of a traffic circle.
"This will take up a lot of space, which is why shop and building owners have been asked to move. There are ongoing negotiations with the property owners as far as compensation is concerned," said Nkambule.
He added that architectural drawings of the circle that will connect the Manzini to Siteki road with the one to the airport were almost complete.
Nkambule said the contractor, Inyatsi Construction, intended to begin work as soon as possible, even next month.
Malabi Dlamini, a member of the committee of property owners affected by the construction of the airport project, also confirmed the removal of the shopping complex.
"They were approached and they accepted this development," he said.
For almost two years, government had been trying to relocate and compensate residents who lived along areas demarcated for the construction of the highway. Many moved, save for a few whom government has still not paid for relocation.
The Sikhuphe airport project itself is worth about E1 billion and is set to become a major terminal for international airlines.
The project, which was supposed to have been completed two years ago, got delayed because of the financial challenge that government has been experiencing. This was why completion dates had to be extended.
Govt paid me E500 000 - property owner
MBABANE – Audrey Kelly, one of the property owners in Mbhadlane, said govern-ment paid her around E500 000.
Kelly, who was not specific on the figure or when she was actually paid, said she was the only one in the area who had been paid so far. She runs a store called ‘Mbhadlane Shopping Complex,’ which was the largest.
She said government offered her compensation to vacate the area and she would do just that in the near future.
"To my understanding, I’m the only one who has been paid and as for the others, well, government is still in talks with them," said Kelly.
Financial compensation by government is normally commensurate with the size of property evaluated.
Meanwhile, Paul Nkambule, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, confirmed that they were still negotiating with other property owners.
In an interview last year, Nkambule said government had budgeted E5 million for the relocation of property owners.
"Many were compensated and they’ve built beautiful homes. Only a few remain and government is working on their reparation," he said.