Evelene Taadira Herald Reporter
HARARE City Council has given residents a two-month reprieve to negotiate with council the way forward regarding their illegal structures before demolition begins. Council recently said it would demolish all illegal structures as part of efforts to restore the city’s sunshine status and meet its target of making the city world class by 2025.
Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi yesterday said the grace period would allow residents to come and negotiate with council on the way forward.
“We are not demolishing the structures tomorrow (today) as some media reports have said. Rather, within the next weeks leading into next year residents can come to council to ascertain the way forward.
“Those who have built structures in areas that are suitable for such structures, but without council permission will get an opportunity to regularise their construction, while those who have put up buildings in inappropriate places without council permission are being asked to remove them within the set period,” Dr Mahachi
Illegal structures had begun mushrooming in the city in recent years due to the growing number of people in informal employment, delays in the allocation of proper places by council and its failure to enforce city by-laws.
After the two-month period, Dr Mahachi said, council inspectors would move around the city and those who would not have complied in removing their illegal structures would be issued with orders to demolish.
“We will give them orders telling them to demolish their structures within a given period,” he said.
Dr Mahachi expressed hope that when Government finally brings its audit of housing structures, the city would already have liaised with its residents.
The reprieve comes as a relief to residents as many feared for their backyard businesses since the announcement that council would pull down all illegal structures.
“The rains are upon us and it would have meant working in the open had this tuckshop been demolished and that is not ideal for the perishables we sell. We are relieved for the time we have been given,” said Mr Tendai Matikiti from Glen Norah.
Meanwhile, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Cde Biggie Matiza said the audit report on housing developments in Chitungwiza and Ruwa would be released in a fortnight following which necessary steps would be taken.
“There are no demolitions that are being done by Government at the moment. There is nothing like that, rather we are waiting for the audit which is to be released in two weeks time,” he said.
Ruwa Local Board last week demolished illegal structures as part of sanitising the environment.