NewsNOWMACHINGA (Malawi NewsNow) —  Mota Engil, a multidisciplinary investor and infrastructure development contractor, is not short of controversy in Malawi. The Portuguese company is now engaged in court battle with people of Kauzu village Tradition Authority Sitola in Machinga for not giving them compensation to the land the company took from them to have a dry port in Liwonde township.

Mr Nickson Masiku lawyer representing the villagers, Mota Engil has ripped off the villagers as it has only given out compensation money on houses and trees but not the land.

He further said that some villager have been pushed to destitution are losing their land following the project as they were given money less than K100,000 as compensation.

Mota Engil—the Portuguese engineering giant dominating road, rail and water transport construction deals in Malawi— intends to construct a dry port estimated at $150 million that will offer a one stop cargo handling facility at Liwonde as opposed to receiving and shipping from the ports.

The facility will have connection to inland destinations with warehousing facilities and container terminals will be a center of cargo consolidation, customs clearances and freight forwarding.

This is not the only land battle Motal Engil is fightin in Malawit. They are also locked in a bitter wrangle with Crown Plantations Limited over 9 000 hectares in Ntcheu’s Bwanje Valley that Crown Plantations says it was the first to buy and followed all procedures before MotaL Engil claimed it owns the same land.

A letter from the area’s chiefs handing over the land to Crown Plantations indicated that group village heads (GVHs) Mtandika, Esaya, Chauluka, Manyela, Magoya, Mchocho, Mbululu, Masese, Khwiya and Phanga ratified the deal on September 2 2011.

Crown—which runs poultry outfits at Chitale near Senzani in the same district—had to seek an injunction from the High Court in Blantyre, stopping Mota Engil from operating on the land.

Ministry of Lands and Housing public relations officer Mr Mike Chigowo indicated that the ministry processed a Crown Plantations lease for land in Bwanje, but said it had not received any lease application from Mota Engil.

According to Chigowo allocation of customary land is done by chiefs in consultation with [their] subjects

Crown spokesperson Mr Dave Malamia said they invested over K70 million (US$167 464) in digging a two and a-half kilometre irrigation canal from Lake Malawi to the mainland. The canal is 11 metres wide and two metres deep.