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Bulawayo wetlands houses saved

by Staff reporter
28 Mar 2021 at 06:48hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council has reassured residents that not all the 460 houses built on wetlands will be demolished as the local authority is working with the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) to come up with other mitigatory alternatives.

Last week it was reported that 460 houses and 93 stands in Bulawayo have been identified for displacement by Government after findings that the developments were constructed on wetlands. 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 in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Cabinet recently announced that more than 21 000 households in urban settlements countrywide are facing displacement by Government after they were affected by floods following heavy and incessant rains received this year. Responding to written questions, council corporate affairs manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said they were working with Ema to come up with mitigation measures in the affected areas.

"The City of Bulawayo working with the Environmental Management Agency developed various recommendations which are also highlighted in the report. Bulawayo City Council is currently working on details of appropriate mitigation measures and timelines within which such measures can be implemented. BCC is to designate all ecologically sensitive/wetland 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," said Mrs Mpofu.

She said the local authority's Building Inspectorate will also up its supervision and monitoring on all construction work to ensure that infrastructure constructed meets the requisite standards. Mrs Mpofu said the mapped wetlands will be incorporated into the Bulawayo Master Plan and Local Plans.

"BCC will maintain culverts (tunnels) in all areas so as to avoid any blockages of waterways such as storm drains and culverts. All key Bulawayo stakeholders, such as Bulawayo City Council, Environmental Management Agency, Agritex will conduct joint awareness campaigns targeting residents practising stream bank cultivation in order to ensure urban farmers cultivate at least 30 metres from the highest level of floodplains. The local authority will intensify demarcation of the 30-metre servitude of all wetlands and ecologically sensitive ecosystems, with BCC and Ema joining forces in prosecuting offenders who practise streambank cultivation," said Mrs Mpofu.

Relating to Cowdray Park suburb which has the highest number of houses earmarked for possible demolition, Mrs Mpofu said there was a need for construction of roads and storm water drainages to arrest the flooding that is taking place in the area as the absence of roads and related infrastructure was causing increased incidences of flooding.

Presenting a report on Bulawayo wetlands and ecologically sensitive areas, Bulawayo Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Paul Nyoni said after a mapping exercise conducted jointly by Ema, BCC, Agritex and the Department of Physical Planning 460 houses and 93 stands were discovered to be developed on wetlands.

According to a breakdown 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.

President Mnangagwa recently rebuked land barons and inept urban local authorities who allocated land and developed residential stands on wetlands, a move which saw more residential areas experiencing floods. A national taskforce led by Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga was set to spearhead the restoration of sanity in most urban settlements. Government said it will only provide land for home owners who will be displaced, with home owners then demanding compensation for costs of building from those who sold the affected land to them.

Source - sundaynews

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