Harare under fire for flouting by-laws
Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Harare City Council has come under fire for continuing to flout its town planning regulations by allocating stands on infills that serve as breathing spaces and fire escape routes. The construction of houses on such “stands” has resulted in damage to underground infrastructure such as electricity cables, storm water drains, sewer and water pipes. Council has also clashed with residents for pegging stands on wetlands and in areas close to high voltage Zesa way-leaves, risking the lives of the beneficiaries.
The Herald yesterday visited an area in Kuwadzana 7 Extension, where people were allocated stands near way leaves and on breathing spaces and in Warren Park 1, where stands were pegged near a ZESA 11KV transformer that feeds over 200 households, including the local Suburban Hospital via cables that run under the stands.
Zesa public relations manager Mr Fullard Gwasira yesterday said electricity regulations do not allow the building of houses under, near and over electricity infrastructure. He said the Act defines a way leave as an area which should be pruned of vegetation and what the minimum distance between the wires and the buildings should be.
“This is due to the fact that it’s dangerous for people and also due to exposure to the magnetic field which emanate thereof, which have been linked to cancer,” he said.
The stands were allegedly allocated to one Shezel Nyasha Simango (Number 10964 of 250), Mercy Murevesi (10963 of 250), Melody Muchando (10962 of 250) and Judith Mhlahleli, who was allocated Stand Number 250.
Council has since stopped the Warren Park 1 project after Combined Harare Residents Association raised a red flag.
Harare City Council public relations manager Mr Michael Chideme confirmed the development.
“Council has since cancelled the layout plans after noting the development would interfere with storm water drains. The people affected are being relocated with the assistance of the director of housing.”
Council’s housing director Mr Edmore Nhekairo said: “The director of works cancelled the layout plans and the three areas are not going to be developed.”
An environmental expert, Mr Patrice Chakanyuka, said open spaces ensure the natural beauty of towns.
“They act as corridors in terms of movement from one point to the other while people experience the natural environment since there will be growth of flora and fauna. They also enhance the beauty of settlements and provision of fresh air,” he said.
Southerton residents recently sued council over its decision to turn Gilwell Square Recreational Park, along Bexley Road, into 29 low-density stands despite their objections.
Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba justified council’s move of turning the recreational park into stands.
“Those areas were left by the then planners for future use. They are open in order to accommodate future plans. This is why you see dualisation being done because land was left open in anticipation of the need to accommodate future growth. There is nothing criminal about that. It is called urban planning. We are now in the future,” he said.
The city lost a case in the High Court where Greendale residents were challenging the local authority’s continued allocation of stands on wetlands in the area despite an order barring it from doing so.