Officials’ sluggish response to wetland degradation irks residents

12 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Officials’ sluggish response to wetland degradation irks residents The foundations that had been dug before police stopped the builders.


Suburban Reporter

Ward 17 residents have expressed disappointment over the sluggish manner in which the City of Harare is handling the developments taking place on the Sentosa Vlei off Westminster Avenue.

The residents say despite numerous reports and attempts to get feedback from the City of Harare their efforts were coming to naught because council officials were not responding to their inquiries.

Although the trenching for house foundations was eventually halted last week, residents were irked by the attitude of the City of Harare officials including Mabelreign district officer Mrs Grace Gora and Ward 17 Councillor Happymore Gotora.

Last week residents reported to council, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Environmental Management Agency about the return of developers to the Sentosa Vlei where their builders were digging foundations for houses.

Police moved in to stop the digging of foundations and arrested the builders who were working on the site.

But City of Harare officials appeared unbothered by the degradation of the wetland leaving residents to question their commitment to duty.

On Friday last week several residents tried to get explanations from Mrs Gora and Mr James Mazvimba from the planning department with no joy.

“Mr Mazvimba, Mrs Gora, we are all very anxious and stressed and very conscious of the fact that foundations building work continues at Sentosa Vlei as we speak! Why are these people allowed to ignore CoH (City of Harare) and police intervention?” asked one resident.

Another resident said an acknowledgment of their inquiries would be greatly appreciated because wetlands have to be protected.

Others said they found the council officials’ silence in the face of blatant and arrogant disregard of regulations strange.

“What are we to make of this?” said a resident.

Added another: “A consideration is to call for the relevant officials to resign or be fired for dereliction of duty as it is in their power to call for immediate cessation of activities on that site until investigations are completed. They have municipal police to use as well as calling for ZRP assistance.”

Mrs Gora finally responded saying she was waiting for the relevant papers about the developments taking place on the wetland while the Zimbabwe Republic Police would ensure no more building takes place until the verification to establish the authenticity or illegality of the housing stands was established.

A resident told Mrs Gora that despite her update digging was continuing on the site on Friday and council’s slow reaction was not helping matters.

This led some residents to suggest that the silence from city officials was indicating complicity between them and the developers.

At that point, Mr Mazvimba weighed in with a response.

“Our silence should never be construed as a sign of CoH complicity in the matter, but procedurally, the D.O. should make a police report leading to the arrest of perpetrators. In my view, the police should be able to do the needful in order to restore sanity and order even in the absence of a formal report,” said Mr Mazvimba.

But residents maintained that council was lackadaisical in its approach to the matter because it has been dragging since October last year when the issue was first reported by residents to the city and police.

On Tuesday this week, Mrs Gora informed residents that a directive to stop building had been given to a Mr Chadyiwa of Stand Number 1192 along Westminster Avenue and the issue had been referred to head office for verification. But residents were still worried.

“ . . . but why does a wetland have a stand number?” asked a resident. What or who exactly is ‘head office’ in this instance, Mrs Gora? But how can a space on a wetland have a stand number. That is impossible. When was that stand number allocated? And by whom? And how many others like it?” questioned another resident.

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