Friday, 19 February 2021

HOUSES BUILT ON WETLANDS TO BE DEMOLISHED, SAYS MINISTER

All illegal structures built on wetlands and riverbanks should be demolished while the local authorities and private developers found liable for the allocation of stands on unsuitable land should compensate affected homeowners, National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said yesterday.

Speaking after touring houses and other structures built on wetlands and riverbanks in Gweru, Minister Garwe said before the demolitions start, the Government will look for alternative land to relocate those affected although council and private land developers will compensate everyone whose properties would have been affected.

A report released recently by a Midlands provincial committee tasked with identifying illegal structures, said there are 100 dysfunctional settlements in the province, of which 25 are on wetlands.

Minister Garwe, who toured Ascot Extension, Tinshel, Woodlands and Nashville suburbs in Gweru, said the local authority working with the Local Government and Public Works ministry should start identifying alternative places to relocate residents on wetlands.

He said in terms of the human settlement policy, and the settlement mandate given by President Mnangagwa on February 4, regarding land barons, informal and dysfunctional structures, the Government will strive to relocate people on stream banks and wetlands to safer areas as “quickly as we can”, then later identify alternative land suitable for resettlement.

Minister Garwe said Zimbabwe is working on achieving an upper middle-income economy by 2030, hence all people settling on wetlands should be moved in line with the desire to create smart cities.

“Under the new concept where we want to relocate people, they will be predominantly high rise buildings. We are following the policy on densification and these people will be relocated to those areas not for free.

“They will pay but where they had built houses if the local authority was responsible for the allocation of the land on riverbanks and wetla

nds, it takes full responsibility of compensating those people.

“If it’s a private developer-cum land baron, that land baron should compensate the people. Government has no apologies to make on that,” he said.

Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Larry Mavima said the Government will not wantonly destroy houses built on wetlands, leaving the affected stranded.

He said the provincial committee will do due diligence and identify new areas to resettle the people before taking action.

“As a province, we are up to the task. We started with identifying these illegal structures but we are not a cruel Government. As Government we will make sure that we will leave no stone unturned and those responsible for duping people will restitute the affected but at the same time, we will not just demolish structures without identifying new places to relocate the affected,” he said. Herald

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