Diana Nherera Suburban Reporter
CITY of Harare officials this week visited the Central Baptist Church in the Avenues area following concerns raised by the church that public transport operators were blocking passage into and out of the church premises.
The Central Baptist Church also complained about the illegal vending taking place by its gate, noise from the kombi crews, lack of ablution facilities for the vendors and crews, which sees them relieving themselves in the open.
A foul smell greets congregants and visitors coming to the church. The kombi crews and vendors are also accused of using foul language on the congregants when they approach them to restrain them from their disturbing activities.
Harare Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume, Ward 6 Councillor Charles Nyatsuro, council officials and the municipal police on Tuesday this week visited Central Baptist Church to see how the church’s concerns can be addressed.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Mafume said the illegal bus rank along Sam Nujoma Street within the vicinity of the church has brought with it illicit activities like noise, illegal vending, fights and blocking of roads. The kombi and bus crews will be picking passengers going to Bindura and other districts in Mashonaland Central Province.
“I have been seeing it for quite some time and I have received messages from the Councillor (Nyatsuro) who was also distressed.
“So I thought it would be important to bring the head of development control so that they can look at the situation and see how we can alleviate it,” he said.
An elder at Central Baptist Church Mr Kennedy Mutimudye said the area which also has premises belonging to business people including doctors has lost its value.
“This has resulted in the lowering of the standards or value and now we are asking ourselves do we relocate our businesses,” he said.
Reverend Asafa Makan’a told the meeting that vendors are cooking sadza at the church gate while non church members are parking their cars inside their premises. Some tenants at the premises are also having their cars repaired within the property.
He said the Avenues area had become filthy and there was need to enforce by-laws.
“Montagu Clinic, along 6th Street, we want it to be cleaned but the dirt is caused by the fact that entire road has been turned into a bus stop resulting in littering.
“We are happy to see council workers sweeping and removing some litter at times but the fact that there are no public toilets for these people is causing a huge stench in the Avenues areas,” said Rev Makan’a.
He said the church has lost some of its congregants as a result.
“These issues are disrupting an institution like ours which is supposed to teach morals to its congregants,” said Rev Makan’a.
Cllr Nyatsuro told the meeting that residents of some flats are complaining about a dumpsite at the corner of Harare Street and Josiah Chinamano Avenue where people are dumping garbage including diapers.
“So if council is behind in its collections, people burn the dumped rubbish and residents of nearby flats are complaining of smoke.
“And there is a property that is losing value.
“Tenants are contemplating relocating because of the dumpsite so they are asking for the dumpsite to be removed,” he said.
Cllr Mafume acknowledged having received some complaints over the issue.
A manager of a nearby block of flats complained of noise pollution coming from Chop Chop restaurant where live music events are held on some days.
“I am also representing our neighbours who are having a problem with the noise
“We sleep at 12 midnight.
“We try to close our windows but to no avail.
“The noise is unbearable and I don’t know how you can help us,” he said.
Mr James Mazvimba from City of Harare development control unit said there is need for coordination in addressing the challenges.
“We can have a blitz along Second Street (Sam Nujoma Street) and involve Harare Municipal Police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police then we can address the issues raised,” he said.
Mr Mazvimba said the issue of noise should be dealt with by the ZRP.
“But where it has been brought to our attention, we can invite the proprietor and let him know about the issue.
“Where compliance is not offered, we may as well recommend cancellation of the activity causing the noise issue but first we need to engage them and we hope that should remedy the challenges,” he said.
Cllr Mafume said there is need for council to introduce shifts.
“The city should be a 24-hour city.
“Shops must be encouraged to open 24 hours.
“Services must be provided 24 hours.
“We need to collect rubbish at night,” he said.
Cllr Mafume said other countries operate 24 hours and service providers such as council and the police are required to be at work.
“At 5 o’clock it’s like a wild wild west in the city centre. People are coming back to the city centre because of the absence of any form of government in town.
‘‘Chinese cities and if you go to Dubai, the cities don’t sleep, people are working. Building is done at night with lights and shifts change.”
Cllr Mafume said the laws put in place define the type of city that exists.
He said the city needs a transport master plan.
“People want to come into the city and go out so we need a city that has the capacity to get people in and out.
“We need to have termini.
“So what is the transport masterplan for trunk roads like this one so that people know when they come to this place, we will find kombis and buses parked and that’s where we will go.
“So if we don’t develop a transport masterplan in the medium to long term, we are going to have problems of transporting people in and out of Harare,” said Cllr Mafume.
He urged Chop Chop need to soundproof their restaurant where live bands are performing from Wednesdays to Sundays.
“If they can’t soundproof, we might have to put more restrictions on their licence otherwise children from that area can’t sleep and can’t refresh for school,” said Cllr Mafume.