Recurring wetland invasion riles Ward 17 residents

14 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Recurring wetland invasion riles Ward 17 residents A grader carving a road on the Sentosa wetland.


Ivan Zhakata Suburban Reporter

THE recurring invasion of a wetland along Westminster Avenue in Sentosa has triggered a huge outcry among local residents with some calling for action to be taken against the developer.

At the wetland, which is close to a stream, two illegal boreholes have been sunk and bricks for construction have been delivered at the site.

Foundations for possible development have been trenched much to the anger of the residents who have demanded the City of Harare Mabelreign District Office should put a barrier where the alleged illegal new road to the stands branches off Westminster Avenue.

The residents have expressed sadness over the continued invasion of the wetland saying the authorities were letting them down.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, Mr John Vekris, a concerned resident, said the only possible solution to prevent the developer from invading the wetland was to station municipal police officers on site, at least over the weekends.

“Only that way, can we effectively block any return of the unscrupulous people behind the self-interested, greedy, anti-social and short-sighted destruction of our precious natural resource,” he said.

“This is why we fail to have confidence in the council when dealing with such matters ‘discreetly’ and opaquely. The more opaque, and laid back, the more we worry.

“If everything is as clear and straightforward as it is from our point of view, why is the council not closing the door firmly on what has already been done? Starting with the plugging of the two illegal boreholes, confiscating the bricks that remain on site, backfilling the foundation trenches and putting a barrier where the illegal new road branches off Westminster,” said Mr Vekris.

District officer for Mabelreign Mrs Jane Gambiza said the Westminster development has not been sanctioned by their office and they have no record of the developer whatsoever.

“We requested them through their contractor on site to submit their paperwork to our offices but since last year I have not received any,” she said.

“However, we kindly request residents to be vigilant whenever there is someone on site, to alert authorities so that no development is made. We continue to observe that most illegal activities are happening mostly during weekends.

“They have reason for that but the police will come in. Where there are no authentic papers, they are liable to arrest and whenever there is someone there, please bring it to our attention,” Mrs Gambiza told residents during a discussion on the matter on the Ward 17 residents’ WhatsApp group.

When pressed for further comment by Suburban on the matter, Mrs Gambiza referred this reporter to Harare spokesperson Mr Stanley Gama who referred this reporter back to Mrs Gambiza saying district officers were allowed to speak to the media and all her colleagues comment on matters under their administration. But when this reporter contacted Mrs Gambiza with Mr Gama’s explanation, she then said she needed the spokesperson to tell her formally that she could comment on the matter.

Sources closely following the issue told Suburban that they understood that the people who keep bringing the grader to carve a road into the Sentosa vlei have apparently completely failed to prove the legitimacy of their operation and ZRP Mabelreign were “opening a docket” against the culprits.

Mabelreign Police referred questions to Harare Provincial Police Spokesperson Inspector Julius Chakanza who said he was still to get details of the case.

Ward 17 Councillor Happymore Gotora said he ordered Mrs Gambiza to engage the police because the developers were name-dropping using his name without his knowledge.

“I am the one who told the district officer to go to the site and investigate and eventually rope in the police after finding out that they were using my name in their dealings,” said Cllr Gotora.

“We have also noted that the developers do not have proper documents and we have since stopped the development.”

Ward 17 residents have expressed concern over the City of Harare’s lethargic approach to the selling of stands on a wetland in Sentosa, off Westminster Avenue. Since last year, the residents have been seeking explanations from council over the stands on the wetland but council has failed to take decisive action against the invaders who have constantly been coming back to the site to carry out construction work despite orders to stop from the municipality and the police.

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