Sunridge residents are frustrated over the City of Harare’s failure to close Fat Cow and other bars at Sunridge Shopping Centre and suspect underhand dealings within the local authority.
Diana Nherera Suburban Reporter
Recently, the city’s health department issued closure orders on Fat Cow and other bars at Sunridge shops but the former has been arguing it has met the municipality’s health requirements to continue operating.
Fat Cow was directed to close pending a re-inspection of its facilities by the City of Harare.
Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, the residents said they are fed up with the noise and immoral behaviour by patrons of bars at Sunridge shops.
The residents said they cannot send their children to the shops because of the behaviour of the patrons.
Residents also claimed that drug peddling is now rife at the shopping centre, which has seen an increase in crime in the suburb.
Properties near the shopping centre are losing value and owners are having difficulties selling to move to other areas.
Lack of running water, non-collection of garbage and unrepaired leaking sewer pipes pose a health hazard.
“We have tried our best going to City of Harare, the police, the mayor, the councillor, nothing has happened so far.
“We have lost hope with the district officer (Mrs Jane Gambiza). We think she has an interest in this shopping area.
“Fat Cow was supposed to be shut down but they went and told him (the owner) to put a toilet and continue to operate and that’s exactly what he has done.
“So it looks like we are fighting a losing battle,” said a resident.
However, other residents believed the district officer understood their plight but was powerless to act.
“The district officer seems to be on our side but there’s nothing she’s doing.
‘‘And the crime rate is going up. It’s really scary. I don’t know what we are going to do about it. We are trying to go through the right channels but it’s not helping,” argued one resident.
Another resident wanted to know what city by-laws say about having three bars in the middle of houses.
“Our main concern is having three bars. They are like 100 metres from our houses and we don’t know if that is permissible within the by-laws of council.
“Our children can’t even go to the shops and there is a lot of immoral behaviour happening from Friday to Sunday.
“Every weekend, we are having to pick used condoms, HIV testing kits, used toilet paper and we see naked people in cars and really it doesn’t sit well with us.
“That’s why we have been going from office to office but things are just going round and round.
“So we don’t know exactly who is responsible for shutting down these bars.
“We want them shut down,” she said.
Residents said prostitution and drug peddling was going on unchecked at the shops.
“Children are going missing, drug peddling is rampant. Prostitution is going on right in front of our homes.
‘‘The sewer system is being blocked by dumped empty cans and bottles but City of Harare is doing nothing.
“I don’t know who is responsible for this. Everybody is saying they are going to look into it, they are going to do something but nothing is happening.
“We are looking at taking legal action against City of Harare and see what’s going to take place,” said a resident.
The residents said they met the city’s director of housing on Tuesday this week and he seemed interested in solving the matter.
“He even said he spoke to the DO (district officer) and she said he (Fat Cow’s owner) shut down and yet it’s open.
‘‘He phoned somebody and asked him and he said yes he has opened so he said he would look into it but that’s what everyone is saying.
‘‘Even the councillor said he shouldn’t open. It’s really a terrible mess we are going through.”
Residents said they are looking for the owner of the building.
“Council must say you either build something worthwhile or sell it.
“So everything boils down to City of Harare.
“If the DO cannot do the work, she must be removed.
“From what I heard, her husband often comes there because people have recognised the car.
“So I’m sure she has an interest in that because she’s not doing anything,” said a resident.
Residents said they were also not informed about the renewal of liquor licences for the bars at Sunridge shops.
Ward 16 Councillor Denford Ngadziore had told them at a previous meeting that the licences will not be renewed.
“At the moment we are getting verbal and conflicting messages which is frustrating considering the efforts that we are making. And it also results in us concluding that there is corruption taking place.”