The Harare City Council yesterday held a workshop to review its master plan that is meant to set out how land within the capital city is going to be used.
A city master plan document normally contains aerial photos, illustrations, maps, reports, and statistical information to support the planning vision.
The master plan will also help city fathers foster order and deal with challenges that include traffic congestion, lack of a mass public transportation system, urban sprawl, rural to urban migration, poor service provision and rapid population growth among others.
The master plan that is currently in use is 24 years old but experts say a master plan should be reviewed after every 15 years.
The new master plan comes at a time when land use in the city and surrounding areas is being done in a haphazard manner with council officials resorting to regularisation or demolition of illegal structures.
It also comes at a time, Harare’s infrastructure has been overstretched as more people than planned are now living in the city.
Most suburbs that are sprawling across Harare, do not have services while other are built on land that is not meant for housing such as wetlands.
In a speech read on his behalf by Urban Local Authorities principal director Ms Erica Jones, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, said the review of the master plan is long overdue as the last one was last updated in 1993.
Minister Moyo called for multi stakeholder participation in solving Harare’s planning issues.
“The master plan preparation team should come up with a coordinated and harmoniously developed capital city, a city that competes regionally to attract FDI, a resilient settlement within which to live, work and enjoy and contribute to create an affluent community.”
“I want to see a plan that facilitates the development of by passes, ring roads, and freeways, urban tolling, provisions of mass rapid transit systems, infrastructure improvements of treatment works as well as development of new treatment works for areas being opened up among other things”, said Minister Moyo.
Minister Moyo also spoke against the use of agriculture land for residential development.
In his presentation at the workshop, Acting Town Clerk Engineer Hosea Chisango, said the master plan is a strategic document that sets out the land use for the City of Harare.
“The review of the master plan is meant to attract investment and rejuvenate the city and surrounding towns,” said Eng Chisango adding that the last review of the master plan saw the birth of Westgate and Tynwald. He said the review of the master plan will cost $3,5 million over 18 months.
Urban planning expert Mr Percy Toriro, explained that a master plan should set out the key issues that affect the different functions of the city.
“Our cities must be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. We need to balance the challenges that we face now in Harare such as street vending and other key areas,” said Mr Toriro.
Speaking at one of the preliminary sessions Zimre Property Investment managing director Edison Muvingi, said the present state of the City “is very ugly”.
He said before talking about the future, there is need to talk about the present, which is in a deplorable state with cars being fixed right in the streets in front of offices.
“Planning for the future without regulating the present is futile. As far as I am concerned we are losing big investments,” said Mr Muvingi adding that enforcement of by-laws is key.
He said there is need to formulate a master plan that is business oriented adding that some of the buildings that are being constructed in the CBD should be demolished to increase density and modernise the City.
Chairman of Environment Management Committee Councillor Herbert Gomba, said the design of the master plan should be inclusive and help make the city habitable, trafficable.
Councillor Gomba called for full participation by all stakeholders in coming up with the revised master plan, which he said should also help protect the environment and bring out the beauty of Harare. The local authorities under the Harare Combination Master Plan Authority are Chitungwiza, Goromonzi RDC, Norton, Ruwa, Mazowe, Zvimba and Manyame RDC.