By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has warned that it will demolish seven church structures built without council approval.
Council by-laws stipulate that no construction should take place without approved plans and inspection by the environment and engineering departments.
The by-laws also state that no new building should be occupied without a certificate of occupation issued by the local authority.
Latest reports of the council’s environmental, management and engineering services committee have, however, noted that a number of properties, including seven churches, were illegally constructed.
These are Family Covenant, Twelve Apostolic, The Apostolic Faith, Foundation of Christ, Assemblies of God and Internal Pentecostal Holiness in Pumula South; and Christedom Pentecostal in Magwegwe West.
“As such, the developments should be regularised if they meet all council by-laws and policies subject to relevant penalties being paid. If they cannot comply, then the development had to be removed accordingly. The department carried routine inspections around the city,” the council report read.
“The table below showed the list (churches and residential properties) of illegal developments with no approved plans and inspections. Appropriate 21 days notices had been issued. If no corrective action was taken, penalties would be charged, and where appropriate demolishing procedures instituted.”
Recently, council also condemned over 50 buildings in the city centre, saying they were severely dilapidated and posed a danger to inhabitants and passers-by and indicated it would demolish them.
In May, the local authority revealed that 14 buildings in the city centre had been condemned as unfit, with owners given a timeline to rectify the anomalies, but without success.
In 2017, three people escaped death by a whisker when a building housing a Simbisa Brands restaurant, Nandos, along Jason Moyo Street collapsed.
In 2020, council’s fire department exposed some government buildings such as Mhlahlandlela Complex, Zimpost, the Registrar-General’s Office and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority as prone to fire.
The country’s second largest city is witnessing an unprecedented increase in the number of abandoned, neglected and derelict buildings in the city centre, a clear sign of urban decay.