Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare City Council, which is losing millions of dollars in revenue owing to illegal billboards placed on private properties by unregistered companies, is set to raze down such billboards using The Harare (Control of Advertising Signs) by-laws.
The by-laws in question outlaw the erection of billboards or any structure within City of Harare area of jurisdiction without permission.
Companies that erected billboards without approval have been told to regularise their structures and, where approval is not granted, pull them down.
The city says all unregistered billboards are dangerous and are reversing the city’s drive towards a world class city by 2025.
Director of Works Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama confirmed the development, saying demolition will be carried out 31 days after the first publication of a warning notice to the owners of the illegal structures if they fail to comply.
“The Harare (Control of Advertising Signs) by laws says it is illegal to erect billboards or any structure within City of Harare area of jurisdiction without permission,” he said.
“The by-law declares any structure that is oversize, which has become a danger to any person or property as illegal. These by-laws apply within the City of Harare area and any local government administration, control and management which is conferred in the Harare City Council.
“The by-law grants the council a right to demolish and remove any illegal structures.”
The by-law also states that the expenses incurred by council in removing the structures will be paid for by the offenders.
Council gets an average $300 000 per month from 1 103 billboards owned by companies registered with the city.
Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba said the city will ensure that all defaulters were accounted for.
“We will make sure those taking advantage of council are brought to book, advertising companies who owe a lot of money must pay, we would rather not have no adverts than to deal with people not reciprocating our good gestures,” he said.
Harare is also set to cancel contracts with companies that installed solar-powered streets lights in both the central business district and residential areas in exchange in exchange for advertising rights as there are concerns that over 90 percent of the solar lights installed so far are non-functional.
Clr Gomba said the project could be taken over by the local authority.
“There is no specific time as to when we will resume the programme, but as soon as we are done with cancellation of the existing agreement, we will have a clear picture on how we will be proceeding,” he said.