EMA stops land developer, charms Greencroft residents

29 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
EMA stops land developer, charms Greencroft residents EMA environmental education and publicity manager Mrs Amkela Sidange

Suburban

Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has intervened to stop a developer from building in an open area in Greencroft which residents say cannot accommodate more properties because services in the area are already overstretched.

Last week, the developers who claim ownership of the open space and are believed to be a church twice moved their equipment to the site to start developing but on both occasions EMA halted development and fined them.

However, when EMA intervened the developers had already damaged the sewer infrastructure put up by developers of nearby flats in the area. The piece of land in question is along Wyatt Road.

“Well, there is a church claiming to have bought that open area where flats were put up. So they went about destroying people’s maize cultivated on the land and also destroyed some of the sewer infrastructure put up for those flats.

“They were stopped by EMA yesterday but today they had resumed in the morning and were stopped again. Residents are aggrieved over the destruction of their maize crops,” said a resident.

The developer is said to be claiming affiliation to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.

Despite residents’ objections in a petition, the developer proceeded to clear the open area for development in the process destroying maize cultivated by local residents.

EMA’s intervention halted the developer’s activities and the environmental body also fined the developer, prompting an outpouring of appreciation from the affected community.

Residents of the area said developers must engage in transparent and open consultations with local communities prior to initiating projects despite the nature of the development.

While residents referred to the area as a wetland, it was noted that only EMA can officially comment on its classification.

The land in question has been a subject of environmental concerns, including drainage issues and depletion of the water table for boreholes.

Of concern to residents is the fact that the development was reportedly approved by the City of Harare’s department of works at Cleveland House bypassing the local council district office in Mabelreign.

Zimbabwe Combined Residents and Ratepayers Association (ZICORRA) Harare chairperson Mr Lawrence Kuleya applauded EMA for taking swift action and stopping the development.

He said the events in Greencroft highlight the need for developers to respect the concerns and livelihoods of local residents.

“Residents in the affected community are thanking EMA for intervening in the Wyatt Road development. EMA penalised the developer. Developers must also learn to engage local communities properly, by doing transparent, open consultations and communication with residents in the areas they want to develop.

“It doesn’t matter what is being put up is a church, service station, offices, houses and so on.

“They must know that residents are not anti-development nor are they their enemies but are actually their neighbours whom they should learn to co-exist with. So they must also hear their concerns and understand the problems in that particular area and work together with the local communities,” said Mr Kuleya.

The developer’s actions also led to the destruction of sewer infrastructure in the area. Residents revealed that the process of changing the land use to build a church was not yet complete, as confirmed by officials at the council office.

The land, which had been vacant since 1980, was considered by many residents as State land or council land.

The emergence of a new owner and subsequent development plans came as a surprise to the community.

EMA environmental education and publicity manager Mrs Amkela Sidange recently said that the environmental body plays a crucial role in upholding environmental regulations and ensuring that development activities adhere to the necessary approvals, a commitment which is essential for maintaining environmental sustainability.

“The Environment Management Agency remains committed to upholding environmental regulations and ensuring that development activities adhere to the necessary approvals.

“The agency’s responsibilities encompass a wide range of activities, including providing education and guidance on environmental protection, and ensuring compliance with the environmental regulations,” said Mrs Sidange.

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