By Tawanda Mangoma
Chiredzi — Over 300 residents here have lost their houses, which were constructed on wetlands, to flash floods that swept through Chiredzi Town last month.
The residents are now planning to sue Chiredzi Town Council which sold them the stands.
Chiredzi West National Assembly member, Cde Farai Msikavanhu has vowed to assist those willing to sue the local authority.
Cde Msikavanhu said residents must be compensated for losing out owing to poor planning by Chiredzi Town Council.
“After the floods of February 13, 2019 when Chiredzi Town recorded a record 203 mm overnight, both the Chiredzi Town Council chair Mr Gibson Hwende and town secretary Mr Charles Muchatukwa admitted that council had allocated a number of residential stands in wetlands and drainage lines,” he said.
“They are both on record saying these people would be allocated new stands. The allocation of residential stands in wetlands is contrary to the laws governing the construction of buildings in urban areas. We were extremely fortunate that no fatalities were recorded in Chiredzi Town following the floods experienced in February.”
Cde Msikavanhu said the local authority must be punished for prioritising money over the welfare of its residents.
“The national disaster as evidenced by flash floods-induced mud slides and fatalities in Chimanimani Urban residential areas during the just-ended Cyclone Idai strengthens my resolve to ensure that Chiredzi Town Council must compensates all residents who spent a fortune building their houses on stands in wetlands that they bought from council.
“Council is yet to formally issue a statement on how it intends to go about the compensation and relocation process. As a responsible legislator I have an obligation to support the affected residents in pursuing legal action if need be on this matter,” said Cde Msikavanhu.
The legislator said council must formulate policies that address the adverse effects of climate change.
“Climate change and the associated extreme weather conditions including floods and mud slides is a reality that requires urgent mitigatory measures. These measures include prudence by responsible authorities in town planning where dense populations are exposed to climate change-induced potential disasters,” he said.
Mr Hwende, however, said they postponed a meeting to deliberate on the problem following the disaster brought about by Cyclone Idai.
“As council we had call for a meeting to assess the damage and effects of heavy rains that fell in Chiredzi last month and we will soon meet with stakeholders in our town to see how we can make Chiredzi a better town,” said Mr Hwende.