Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter
GLEN Lorne residents have appealed to City of Harare (CoH) and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to intervene and act on the increased number of illegal settlements in the suburb.
The illegal settlements are especially rampant along Glen Helen Way and some of the structures built on the settlements include shebeens, tuckshops and grinding mills.
Residents who shared their grievances over the illegal settlements said they were fed up with the ever mushrooming settlers who they strongly suspect are also engaged in criminal activities which include robberies and being hubs of substance and drug abuse.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, Glen Lorne residents said the tuckshops and shebeens must be removed as a matter of urgency. Residents said they no longer feel safe in their neighbourhood and the unchecked increase in the illegal settlements might ultimately lower the values of their properties.
“I live in Glen Lorne, we are having problems with illegal settlements in the form of shebeens, tuckshops and grinding mills and there is too much noise. Some even keep goats at the area. Our plea is to have the illegal settlers and the tuckshops removed. It’s along Glen Helen Way near the former Food Lovers Market.
“We no longer feel safe in our own neighbourhood. We are appealing to the authorities to help us. We understand that these people have to earn a living, I can only stand for vegetable vendors and ask CoH to find them a proper legal market where they can do their business from,” said a resident.
Added another resident: “If this issue of increased and mushrooming illegal settlements is not urgently addressed I won’t be surprised to learn that the value of our properties will be diminishing, which is very disappointing for such a neighbourhood as Glen Lorne.”
Ironically the informal settlers have been complaining about lack of services such as shops, transport and council tap water.
Two years ago, the informal settlers bemoaned the lack of shops in the area saying the closure of Food Lovers Market a few years ago had led to the sprouting tuckshops in the suburb.
The informal settlers also acknowledged then that the tuckshops and shebeens were a breeding ground for criminality.
“There are too many shebeens here and they breed criminality as criminals make these drinking spots their hideouts,” said Mr Morgan Mubendu.
The withdrawal of a Zupco bus service had also left the Glen Lorne informal settlers facing transport problems. Informal settlers rely on pirate taxis commonly known as mushika-shikas but they complained of poor service by the pirate taxis saying the corner of Glen Helen and Marfield was now an eyesore as result of the pirate taxis.
“There is no Zupco bus service here, we used to have one bus but it has since been withdrawn. That is why you see the mushika-shikas at the corner of Glen Helen and Marfield. People rely on those for transport,” said Mr Mubendu.
The lack of a bus service in Glen Lorne has resulted in parents from informal settlements having to accompany their children to and from school because they fear using mushika-shikas as they might end up boarding cars belonging to criminals given the prevalence of children who are disappearing after being kidnapped.
“We are now afraid of leaving our children go to school on their own. We have to take them to school and also collect them after lessons because they might fall into criminals’ hands thinking they have boarded a genuine mushikashika,” said Mr Bigboy Tazvivinga.
The informal settlers also bemoaned the lack of water in their settlements saying for the past decade residents of Glen Lorne have not received council tap water.
“We have not had council water for more than 10 years. We are asking if the authorities could drill a borehole at a central point in the suburb so that we can all access water. At the moment we have to ask for water from those with boreholes and sometimes we draw water from Umwinsi River,” said Mr Maplan Mugambiwa.