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Victor Maphosa Herald Correspondent
Harare is fast becoming a city riddled with car sales, with the bulk of the space around the central business district, which can be productively used for other businesses, being allocated to car dealers.
Some of the land is being haphazardly allocated in violation of the city by-laws, with a view to raise more money from the leases.
This has compromised on the standards of the Sunshine City standards and residents are up in arms with city fathers over the development.
A survey by The Herald shows that at least 100 car sales are dotted around the city centre, while some pieces of land are being fenced off and reserved for car sale business without following laid down procedure.
Of the more than 100 car sales operating in areas closer to the central business district, Harare City Council officially told The Herald that only 65 were on council’s register.
In an interview, Harare mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba acknowledged the chaotic mushrooming of car sales, saying the local authority would soon review the land allocation policy.
“It is not supposed to be like that,” he said. “In fact, Harare cannot be a city of car sales. We are working on reviewing the allocation policy. We want to review and determine how many dealers should be given land for car sales.
“We have received complaints from residents on the numerous car sales in the city and will soon restore order.”
Harare Residents’ Trust spokesperson Mr Precious Shumba said residents were concerned with the manner in which car sales are being allocated tracts of land around the city centre.
“The standards of the urbanisation development in Harare has deteriorated over the years,” he said. “Car sales, which should be put on the periphery of the central business district, have actually become a part of the central business district.
“Car sales require more space to accommodate the vehicles on sale. City planners in collaboration with corrupt councillors are at the centre of this socio-economic phenomenon and the trend is not going to stop anytime.
“The car sales should be moved further out of the city centre so that people in need of cars to buy go to a market where there is one big area where the land use is for car sales.
“Council could effectively manage the spaces and get the car sales owners to fully develop their operating spaces to modern standards.
“This haphazard manner car sales operators are being allocated open spaces in the central business district creates chaos and reveals incompetence and corruption, as well as poor planning by the town planners.
“Modern urbanisation should promote the setting up of high standards which every business must abide by.”
Along Robert Mugabe Way alone, The Herald crew physically counted and found that there are more than 30 car sales.
Driving along Chiremba Road, there are more than 15 of such car sale shops, according to the same recent survey.
Enterprise Road has more than 15 car sales, with Simon Mazorodze having more than five. Along Seke Road, close to the flyover, there are several dealers as well.
There are also car sales dotted along Samora Machel Avenue, Second Street, and in suburbs like Avondale, Borrowdale, Southerton, just but to mention a few.
Recently, Harare City Council clashed with residents after an open space between the South African Embassy and Royal Sports Club along Sam Nujoma Street was fenced off without notice.
Investigations revealed that the land had been allocated to a known car dealer for setting up of a car sale.
Harare prominent lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange outlined the procedure to be followed in the allocation of such pieces of land, saying council gets it wrong.
“Most open spaces left out in built up areas were reserved for recreation,” he said. “Others were left vacant because they were wetlands. If council wishes to change the use of land from being recreational land, there must first be a resolution from City of Harare to change use of land.
“The second stage is to have another council resolution stating the buyer and the fee charged. Residents around the area must also be consulted through written letters and if there are any objections, they are raised.
“Council must also advertise in the local newspapers, which it did not do. If council and the residents reach a deadlock, the case will spill into the Administrative Court.”
Another dispute arose along Samora Machel Avenue near the Harare Exhibition Centre after another developer fenced off a nearby open space, blocking a tarred lane connecting to a number of law firms and other companies.
Plans were to open a car sale, but the decision was contested by residents, including top lawyer Mr Obert Gutu of Gutu & Chiwero, until council removed the fence from blocking the access road.