CONSTRUCTION of houses has resumed on the wetland at Ellis Robins High School in Mabelreign to the disappointment of Ward 16 residents who have been making endless efforts to have the building of houses stopped.
Ivan Zhakata and Diana Nherera Suburban Reporters
The building was stopped last year following a huge outcry from residents who argued that the land developers were taking advantage of the Covid-19 induced lockdown to invade wetlands, peg stands and develop them before selling to home seekers.
Early last year, builders completed building foundations on three stands with further clearing of the land on the other side of the wetland for the development of more housing stands.
A concerned resident, Mrs Zia Beaton said people were taking advantage of the lockdown to develop stands on the wetlands as movement is limited.
Mrs Beaton said they have had the developments stopped on several occasions but the developers keep on coming back to continue with their developments whenever a lockdown is promulgated by the Government.
“Construction work has resumed again on the Ellis Robins wetland area. Three houses are still at foundation level.
“One more has already gone up to wall level. It all occurred during this recent lockdown. We have stopped them numerous times and we have had court interventions.
“They are taking advantage of authorities not doing much during the Covid-19 pandemic. This area encompasses the beginning of the headwaters of the Little Marimba River (vital for Harare’s wetlands). These buildings need to be demolished as soon as possible,” she said.
Zimbabwe Combined Residents and Ratepayers Association (ZICORRA) member Mr Lawrence Kuleya confirmed the development and said they were going to engage council through the district office to have the building stopped again.
“Yes, the developments have resumed. It seems the beneficiaries have started building their houses.
“Three houses are still on foundation level and one is already at wall plate level. From the onset our district office has always distanced itself from these developments ever since their inception,” he said.
Last year, Greencroft residents living along Sherwood Drive raised an alarm over the invasion of a wetland behind Ellis Robins Boys High School between Sherwood Drive and Westminister Road behind Sentosa.
At the wetland in question, houses were being built with some nearing completion while others were still under construction.
Mr Kuleya said wetlands and open spaces in their area were under siege and a quick response to stop the developers should be taken before the situation gets out of hand.
A member of the Sentosa Residents Association, Mr Flavian Gonese said residents are also questioning why they were not informed about a development that is set to take place along Westminster Avenue.
He said they were never told about the development that will take place by the responsible authorities.
“We have noticed that along Westminster Avenue, an open space that was there has been graded yet we were never told what is going to be built on that site,” said Mr Gonese.
Harare West is one of the constituencies in Harare with the highest number of illegal housing developments some of which are built on wetlands and greenways, according to experts.
Two years ago, Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) programmes manager Mr Selestino Chari said Ward 16, which is part of Harare West, had a lot of illegal developments.
He said some of the illegal developments had the required paperwork and plans because the stands were being occupied through connivance between the land developers and some syndicates within council.
Ward 16 comprises of Mabelreign, Ashdown Park, Bloomingdale, Cotswold Hills, Greencroft, Haig Park, Lenana Park, Mabelreign Central, Madokero, Matidoda Park, Mayfield, Meyrick Park, Nkwisi Park, Sanganayi Park, St Andrew’s Park, Sentosa, Sherwood Park, Sunridge, Ridgeview, and parts of Westlea.