Anger over exclusion in crafting Harare Master Plan

14 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Anger over exclusion in crafting Harare Master Plan Acting director of urban planning services in Harare Mr Samuel Nyabezi.

Suburban

Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

HARARE residents say the city’s announcement that it is finalising a new master plan came as a surprise because they were not consulted in the crafting of the new plan.

Residents are wondering why they were sidelined from the process to draft the new master plan.

The City of Harare has just announced its intention to finalise the new master plan by the looming June 30 deadline. Acting urban planning services director Mr Samuel Nyabezi told the media this week that the city had made significant progress on the master plan.

In response to the city’s unilateral approach, Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba expressed residents’ dismay saying that the residents have not been consulted nor invited to make any submissions regarding the master plan.

“It can only be their master plan because without our input, there is no ownership on our part,” said Mr Shumba.

Mrs Carole Pearce, a community leader from Ward 17, echoed similar sentiments, highlighting the lack of consultation and transparency in the process.

“We weren’t consulted or even told about this master plan. Residents are unanimous that we weren’t consulted and we have asked our Councillor (Happymore Gotora) to vote against the master plan at council,” said Mrs Pearce.

Mrs Pat Townsend, a committee member of the Borrowdale Ratepayers and Residents Association (BRRA), said residents know very little about the city’s master plan, describing the situation as sad because such plans affect them and their communities.

“I know little about the master plan. I don’t know anyone who was consulted about the master plan. I certainly wasn’t asked for any input, not that I am in any way qualified, except as a resident and concerned citizen,” she said.

Zimbabwe Combined Residents and Ratepayers Association (ZICORRA) provincial chairperson for Harare Mr Lawrence Kuleya raised concerns about the lack of formal consultation during the crafting of the master plan. He emphasised the importance of residents’ input, particularly regarding infrastructural issues and essential services that directly impact their welfare.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) director Mr Reuben Akilli, articulated the residents’ stance, asserting that the city lacks the capacity to develop the master plan by the stipulated deadline.

He also criticised the local authority for adopting an autocratic culture that sidelines key stakeholders and prioritises  revenue generation over the residents’ views.

Following the residents’ concerns, the city then issued a notice inviting residents, town planners, the construction industry, business community and other stakeholders to a consultation on the master plan on June 17, 2024. In response to residents’ grievances, acting City of Harare director of urban planning services Mr Samuel Nyabezi, said the master plan was based on contributions from various working groups.

He outlined the plan’s trajectory, explaining that it will undergo approval processes before being submitted to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.

The master plan aims to address challenges such as public transportation, traffic congestion, and the provision of essential services, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of Harare residents.

A master plan is a city’s main land use and development planning policy guide. It usually has a planning horizon period of at least 10 years. Master plans are expected to be reviewed every 10 years to remain relevant.

Harare is currently using a master plan that was prepared in the late 1980s and was approved to become operative 13 years later in 1993. The current master plan is now 30 years old meaning the many assumptions on which it was designed such as the deregulation of the transport sector, population increase and the economy, have changed.

Urban planning expert Dr Percy Toriro says the fact that all local authorities have been asked to have new master plans by June 30 is a positive development.

“For the first time,  all areas will be guided by master plans.  Master plan preparation is a huge multi-disciplinary exercise that involves Town Planners,  engineers, economists, environmental professionals etc. This process typically goes through five phases:

l An Inception meeting where all stakeholders meet to commence the process,

l Sector studies to examine current situation and challenges,

l Validation of the study findings,

l Drafting of master plan,

l Draft Master Plan validation,  and plan approvals.

“To my knowledge, Harare processes to engage consultants to do their master plan delayed a bit. I am not sure if they will meet the deadline,” Dr Toriro told a discussion on the matter on a residents’ WhatsApp Group.

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