Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
Harare City Council yesterday demolished 15 houses built on land earmarked for the expansion of Harare International Airport.
The demolitions follow a directive by President Mugabe late last year for the houses to be pulled down. More houses are set to be demolished today as council workers could not complete the task yesterday.
The exercise saw some illegal settlers who were resisting relocation losing property worth thousands of dollars as council battles to rid the city of illegal and unplanned settlements.
Council initially gave the settlers a grace period to pull down their own structures but they failed to comply with the local authority’s call, leading to the demolitions.
Meanwhile, council has engaged private developers over compliance issues on most housing cooperatives and said it would continue to demolish settlements that fail to comply with council standards and regulations.
Harare City Council principal communications officer Mr Michael Chideme said regularisation was a huge relief for people who were living with fears of demolitions.
“We are on a drive to regularise settlements on proper housing land and that will attract a number of regularisation fees as some land developers have illegally built some structures on land already approved for housing,” he said.
“In such instances, the city council will not just demolish structures but we are moving in to standardise their operations and ensure their standards are that which we approve of.”
Mr Chideme urged land developers to conform to the required city building by-laws.
“We are already accepting plans from suburbs like Mainway Meadows and Pomona and as the situation stands right now, we are urging other private developers out there to approach us with their plans and relevant building documentation.”
Mr Chideme said people occupying illegal stands should make arrangements to pay penalty fees ranging from $60-$200 per square metre in low density areas while those in high-density residential suburbs would attract a $40 fee per square metre.
Harare recently warned residents of Gletwyn, Mt Pleasant Heights, Pomona, and Belvedere West, Prospect/Main Way subdivision and South of Ashdown Park along Harare Drive over unapproved plans.