1.   Short title

   2.   Interpretation

   3.   Operation of the Act

   4.   Borrowing powers


   5.   Responsibility for repair and maintenance of public streets

   6.   Council to declare public streets. Objections to declaration. Powers of court

   7.   Power to construct new streets and to acquire land for the purpose

   8.   Power to close public streets temporarily

   9.   Notice of intention to close

   10.   Procedure for stopping up, diverting or turning public streets

   11.   Application for order that a public street shall cease to be repairable by Council

   12.   Register of public streets to be kept and amended in terms of court’s order

   13.   Planning approval necessary before construction, stopping up, diverting, turning or discontinuing use by public of public streets

   14.   Planting of trees and laying out grass margins

   15.   General offences


   16.   Making of private streets or widening, etc., of existing private streets

   17.   Conditions may be imposed by Councils and Planning Committees. Appeals by persons aggrieved

   18.   Planning approval to be obtained

   19.   Approved plans, etc., to be complied with

   20.   Power for Council to undertake private street works

   21.   Appeals by persons aggrieved by resolution to do private street works or by provisional apportionment of costs thereof

   22.   Power to amend proposals

   23.   Apportionment of expenses of private street works and objections and appeals in connexion therewith

   24.   Unpaid apportionments to be a charge on the land

   25.   Recovery of expenses by action

   26.   Temporary construction of private street works

   27.   Incidental works

   28.   Adoption of private streets as public streets

   29.   Liability on change of ownership

   30.   Penalties


   31.   Numbering of houses and naming of streets

   32.   Owner to have bridge over drain leading to his house

   33.   Application to Government

13 of 1956
8 of 1971
26 of 1988
G.N. 22/1963

An Act to regulate the making and repair of Public Streets in Urban Areas, the construction of Private Streets in Urban Areas and their adoption by Municipal Councils and Town Councils and for other matters incidental thereto and connected therewith

[20TH JULY 1956]


1.   Short title

   This Act may be cited as the Urban Areas (Public and Private Streets) Act.

2.   Interpretation

   In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

   “Council” means Municipal Council or Town Council within the meaning of the Local Government (Urban Areas) Act;

   “court” means a Resident Magistrate or a magistrate of the first grade having jurisdiction in an Urban Area;

   “owner” means—

   (a)   in relation to freehold property (excluding public land) the person owning such property; and

   (b)   in relation to leasehold or other immoveable property, the person holding such property directly from the Government or from the owner of the freehold estate or from a —

      (i)   any agent who receives rents or profits for any such person;

      (ii)   any superintendent, overseer or manager of any such person in respect of any holding on which he resides as superintendent, overseer or manager;

   “Planning Area” means a Planning Area so declared under the Town and Country Planning Act, within which an Urban Area is included;

   “Planning Committee” means a Planning Committee appointed under the Town and Country Planning Act;

   “private street” means any street other than a public street;

   “private street works” means the doing in relation to a private street of any of the following things, that is to say, the levelling, paving, flagging, metalling, macadamizing, asphalting, gravelling, kerbing, channelling or lighting thereof or the making of a sewer or drain, or the making of a carriage-way or footpath whether by the doing of any of the foregoing things or otherwise;

   “public street” means any street declared to be a public street by a resolution passed under section 6 (1) subject to any amendment by the court made under this Act and any other street declared to be a public street under any of the other provisions of this Act;

   “street” means any highway, road, lane, thoroughfare, footway, court, square or passage within the area of an Urban Area, used or intended to be used as a means of access to two or more premises or areas of land in different occupation, whether the public have a right of way thereover or not, and includes all channels, ditches, drains, sidewalks, bridges, culverts and other works appurtenant thereto;

   “Urban Area” means a Municipality or a Township within the meaning of the Local Government (Urban Areas) Act.

3.   Operation of the Act

   The Minister may, from time to time, by order, apply all or any of the provisions of this Act to any Urban Area or part thereof and upon the publication of any such order the said provisions shall extend to and be in force in the Urban Area or such part thereof as may be specified in the order.

4.   Borrowing powers

   Any Council may, for the purpose of carrying out any works under this Act and with the sanction of the Minister, raise loans on such terms and conditions as the Minister may approve.


5.   Responsibility for repair and maintenance of public streets

   A Council shall bear the cost of and shall be responsible for the repair and maintenance of any public street in trust to keep and maintain the same in a reasonable state of repair for the use and benefit of the general public.

6.   Council to declare public streets

   (1) A Council shall, within four calendar months of the publication of any order made under section 3 in respect of its Urban Area or any part thereof, by resolution declare which streets or parts thereof within the area in question are public streets and shall cause a copy of such resolution and a copy of subsections (2) and (3) to be published within one calendar month of the passing of such resolution in the Gazette and in two issues of a newspaper circulating in Malawi.

Objections to declaration

   (2) Any person who may consider that he is or may be injured or aggrieved by such resolution either by the inclusion therein of any street or streets or any part or parts thereof or by the exclusion therefrom of any street or streets or any part or parts thereof may, within three calendar months of the date of the passing of the resolution or such extended time as the court may (whether before or after the said period for special reasons to be recorded by it) allow, lodge with the court an objection to the resolution stating in such objection his reasons for making it.

   (3) Any person lodging an objection under subsection (2) shall within seven days of lodging such objection forward a copy thereof by registered post to the Council concerned.

   (4) On receipt of any objection lodged pursuant to subsection (2) the court shall inform the Council and the objector in writing of the date of the hearing.

Powers of court

   (5) On the hearing of an objection the court shall adjudicate thereon and may set aside the resolution or amend it in such manner as it shall think fit and shall in any event make such order as to costs as it considers just.

   (6) If on the hearing of an objection the court is satisfied that any street or part thereof has for the period of one calendar year immediately preceding the date of a resolution made under subsection (1) been ordinarily repaired or ordinarily maintained by a Council or that the general public have enjoyed the use thereof without lawful interruption for the period of twelve calendar years immediately preceding the date of such resolution, where such street has not been declared a public street by such resolution, the court shall declare such street or part thereof as the case may be to be a public street.

   (7) In hearing any objection, the court may take into consideration any matter it considers relevant notwithstanding that testimony regarding such matter would not be admissible under the law relating to evidence.

   (8) The decision of the court on any objection shall be final and shall not be subject to any appeal.

7.   Power to construct new streets and to acquire land for the purpose

   A Council may make and construct new streets and may by agreement acquire land for such purpose, and may by resolution declare any such street to be a public street, giving notice thereof in accordance with section 28 (3).

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