Poorly Built Houses In Caledonia To be Demolished: Mayor

Thursday, 02 March 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE – Thousands of housing units which do not meet the minimum standards set by the Harare City Council in Caledonia risk being demolished, city mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has said. 

Manyenyeni was speaking before Parliament’s Local Government committee chaired by Mutasa South legislator Irene Zindi on Wednesday.

Asked by Zindi if council will proudly inherit sub-standard structures, Manyenyeni, also city councillor for ward 17, said they as a council always caught in a moral dilemma.

"The people we find in illegal settlements do not go there out of choice; they go there out of desperation,” Manyenyeni said.

"Our technical team should be able to tell us which units will survive under normal planning council expectations and which of the units are unfit for human habitation.

"First prize for us, is to have such structures normalised, regularised and habitable, but where this is not possible, demolitions becomes the necessary evil.”

He also cited a case in which a poorly constructed house in Hopley farm collapsed during heavy rains and flooding in February this year. The house was not occupied at the time.

Manyenyeni said the authority was in a catch 22 situation in which they did not know whether to take corrective measures before disaster strikes or do fire fighting thereafter.

"Do we accept the responsibility of the demolitions and all the outcry that follows or do we accept the responsibility of the casualties that follow," he said.

IF council proceeds with any demolitions, this will not be the first time unapproved structures by the local authorities would be destroyed as many other homes seekers were illegally settled by land barons before and erected unapproved structures.

Speaking during the same meeting, acting town clerk Josephine Ncube said, ordinarily council would use money from the sale of land to service the stands but in this case, the land belonged to government.

However, she said, it was still council’s responsibility to approve layout plans.

"The ministry is collecting the money and they are developing the infrastructure but our role as the city is to ensure that we approve the layout plans,” she said.

"Our engineers monitor the process so that we don't end up with substandard infrastructure.

"Most of the buildings in Caledonia do not meet the required standards, most of them are temporary structures as it were but they are few houses which could, through regularisation, meet the standards.”

Caledonia farm is state land which was invaded by illegal settlers but is currently going through the regularisation process under the supervision of a consultant contracted by the local government ministry.

Formerly falling under Goromonzi Rural district council, Caledonia is now under Harare city after a presidential proclamation in 2015.

The Caledonia settlement has 30 000 stands proving to larger than fully fledged towns such as Bindura.

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