By Felex Share and Yeukai Karengezeka
Harare and Chitungwiza councils have begun demolishing illegal structures and tuckshops in preparation for the urban renewal project to be launched soon.
Illegal vendors are also being removed and relocated to designated trading sites.
Harare City Council began its citywide exercise in Mbare over the weekend demolishing illegal tuckshops.
Those involved in the illegal activities were blocking roads, walkways and entrances into rate-paying businesses.
Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme yesterday said a grand master plan on urban regeneration would be unveiled soon.
“Cleaning of the city is the mandate of Harare City Council,” he said. “We want to be amongst the competing world cities in terms of cleanliness, hygiene and behaviour change amongst the residents.
“We want Mbare to breathe again, we want to free the walkways and bus ways. “We want to restore land uses in Mbare. We have a grand master plan, the renewal or regeneration of Mbare that is coming soon.
“That regeneration can only take place when systems are in place in terms of order. That’s why we have embarked on this exercise.”
Mr Chideme said council wanted to ensure all businesses operating in Mbare had ablution facilities.
“Some of the established businesses in Mbare are congesting the public facilities,” he said. “Private business must have their own facilities because they are stand-alone businesses. We want to make places such as Mbare free for the woman and girl child.
“They need to go there with a sense of freedom that they will not be harassed, that their bags will not be snatched from them and that they will not be physically abused. We want to free Mbare of rogue elements such that the city reclaims the bus termini, markets and begins to benefit from the funds generated form those facilities. The funds have to be channelled towards service delivery.”
A visit to Mbare yesterday showed that illegal tuckshops and structures in most areas, especially those surrounding the bus terminus, had been demolished.
In Chitungwiza, the cleaning exercise began on Friday with illegal structures being pulled down in areas such as Unit C and L, Makoni and St Mary’s.
Chitungwiza Acting Town Clerk Dr Tonderai Kasu said council was working with law enforcement agents in restoring sanity in the town.
“There is a pre-existing circular from Central Government that was sent to all local authorities last year which was directing all local authorities to conduct clean-up operations and clean-up campaigns,” he said.
“What is happening now is just intensification of work that council had previously been directed to do. As part of the planning process for the current operation, there was an exercise done to identify the sites that vendors are going to be relocated, and this exercise was done before the start of the current operation.
“The operation is not about how much vendors were or were not remitting to council, it is about bringing sanity to public and open spaces in Chitungwiza.”
Harare City Council chief town planner Mr Samuel Nyabeze said they wanted to achieve world class city status by 2025.
“The urban regeneration project being spearheaded by the Government is the way to go if we are really considering to become a world class city by 2025,” he said.
“Our aim is to bring sanity to our city and what we are doing is legal and we are guided by the Harare Combination Master Plan and the Regional Town and Country Planning Act. For example, there is Mbare South Local Development Plan which we are now trying to implement.
“All these exercises are being done in the public interest. We intend to upgrade all infrastructure in Mbare, including the sewer and water lines, roads and even the bus termini. We are also going to demolish those flats because they are no longer fit for human habitation and we are going to come up with structures that fit into the world class city status.”
Town planning expert Mr Percy Toriro said urban renewal was necessary.
“Urban renewal can bring more development opportunities and in the process benefit the public,” he said. “It must, however, be carefully managed in order to avoid or minimise damage to people’s livelihoods. A delicate balance must be achieved so that it is a win-win situation.”
Government, through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, is working on new city designs and urban regeneration projects based on the concept of the modern and self-contained smart city.