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500 Bulawayo houses on wetlands to go

by Staff Reporter
21 Mar 2021 at 07:51hrs | Views
NEARLY 500 houses in different suburbs in Bulawayo have been identified for displacement after Cabinet last week announced that more than 21 000 households in urban settlements countrywide face displacement after they were affected by floods following heavy and incessant rains received this year.

According to a breakdown of the developments availed to Sunday News, Cowdray Park has the highest figure with 429 houses and 88 stands. Luveve Five has 15 houses and five stands, Newton West has four houses, Sauerstown has four houses and Nkulumane has eight houses.

In a presentation on Bulawayo wetlands and ecologically sensitive areas, Bulawayo Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Paul Nyoni revealed that after a mapping exercise conducted jointly by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Bulawayo City Council, Agritex and the Department of Physical Planning 460 houses and 93 stands were discovered to be developed on wetlands.

"The objective of the exercise was to identify and map all wetlands and ecologically sensitive ecosystems within Bulawayo Metropolitan Province. It was also meant for the identification and mapping out of all the infrastructure built on wetlands and ecologically sensitive areas.

"According to the Ramsar Treaty (Ramsar Convention, 1971, Article 1.1), wetlands are broadly defined as: … areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres," said Mr Nyoni.

The exercise comes at a time when the Government is also moving to regularise urban settlements and target land barons and council officials that illegally allocated stands to unsuspecting residents in unsuitable areas.

According to the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27) section 113, EMA is mandated to prosecute anyone found carrying out any activity that is likely to cause degradation of a wetland without authority from the agency. Already, demolitions have been executed on houses built on wetlands and on areas illegally acquired by land barons in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Mr Nyoni said among recommendations that had been reached by the joint taskforce, BCC should now map and designate all ecologically sensitive areas in Bulawayo and ensure that all infrastructural development falls beyond the minimum 30 metres from the highest floodplain level of all wetlands and ecologically sensitive areas.

"Bulawayo City Council has to produce a mitigation plan in liaison with EMA and to consider relocating those houses and stands located within wetlands or ecologically sensitive ecosystems that cannot be mitigated against. The BCC building inspectorate should effectively supervise and monitor all construction to ensure that infrastructure constructed meet the requisite standards," said Mr Nyoni.

Source - Sunday News
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