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Beitbridge town faces demolition

by Staff reporter
14 Mar 2021 at 06:08hrs | Views
IN a shocking revelation, more than 300 structures in Beitbridge Town, including part of the border post, a hospital, police base, schools, Dulibadzimu Stadium and hundreds of houses were built on wetlands.

The discovery follows a directive by President Mnangagwa to deal with dysfunctional urban settlements mostly those built on wetlands to restore sanity in towns and cities. Cabinet has already constituted an inter-ministerial taskforce led by Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga to deal with the matter at national level as Government intensifies preservation of the swamplands.

According to a mapping report compiled by the Environmental Management Agency (Ema), seen by Sunday News, 310 structures were built on wetlands in the border town.

"There are 310 structures in Beitbridge that were developed on wetlands. These are 202 residential houses, 66 residential stands, 23 cancelled stands, 15 industrial properties, six commercial properties, six schools and crèches, a hospital, a flea market, a stadium, a police base, two border warehouses, a lodge and three hostels," reads the report.

Beitbridge Town is home to the Beitbridge Border Post, which links Zimbabwe and South Africa and is the busiest port of entry in the southern region. There has been a steady development in the border town and according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) it has an estimated population of 41 767 people and about 2 570 houses in formal settlements. Dulibadzimu Stadium, which once hosted Premier Soccer League matches is the town's sole multi-purpose arena which can accommodate at least 3 000 people.

Although the Government is not yet sure of what course of action to take on the new revelation, the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Daniel Garwe told Sunday News in an interview that what was certain was on the issue of houses, which have to be demolished. He said the Government policy was that all houses that were built on wetlands must be demolished.

"The policy of Government on houses built on wetlands has not changed. All houses are supposed to be demolished and we will construct new accommodation for the people but they would have to pay for the developments done by Government. I have not yet received any report on the dysfunctional settlements in Beitbridge. We will be able to talk about how that issue can be addressed once we receive the report," he said.

Beitbridge Town Clerk Mr Loud Ramagkapola conceded that there were a number of structures including Dulibadzimu Stadium that were constructed in between streams.

"We have not yet received a report from the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) pertaining to the houses and other infrastructure on wetlands. However, Dulibadzimu Stadium was constructed in between streams and at law there should be at least 30 metres between a structure and a water body," he said.

It is not clear what will happen to some of the structures but there are already plans to modernise the town.

Last year, Zimborders Consortium said it has secured nearly US$300 million for the upgrade and modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post, the country's busiest inland port of entry and one of the region's key transit points.

The project will include a major upgrade of the entire border post including roads, Information Communication Technology infrastructure as well as the construction of a number of social projects to improve the critical infrastructure including a fire station, residential buildings, a sewerage dam, civil services and new water reservoirs.

The Ema report also noted that there were also 28 wetlands that have been mapped in Matabeleland South, of which eight were in Gwanda Town, 12 in Plumtree Town and eight in Beitbridge Town. According to the report, Matabeleland South has a total of 402 structures that were built on wetlands.

"A total of 28 wetlands have been mapped in the province, of which Gwanda Town has eight, Plumtree Town has 12 and Beitbridge Town eight, with a percentage coverage of 98 percent for the three urban towns. The wetlands covered are in the residential, CBD, industrial areas and proposed development areas," the report noted.

However, according to the report, the 402 structures built on wetlands in the province were authorised by Government, local authorities while some were developed by unregistered property developers.

"A total of 402 development structures were found within 30 metres of the highest flood level of wetlands with an additional 23 already cancelled stands. These were developed by the Government, local authorities and unregistered developers. These development structures are at different stages of development some are at slab level, window, roof level and completed structures. There are 48 structures built on wetlands in Gwanda while Plumtree has 44," reads part of the report.

Most cities are grappling with issue of buildings that were built either on wetlands or land that was improperly parcelled out by land barons. A number of Government officials and land barons have already been arrested across the country over irregular allocation of stands in towns and cities.

Source - sundaymail

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