Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Reporter
As preparations to build the new interchange-flyover to replace the continuously-clogged Mbudzi roundabout, Harare City Council is now finally moving against those who have illegally built tuckshops and houses on the road reserves in the Hopley area, with more than 320 given 48-hour eviction notices.
The final approval of the construction of the interchange was given by Cabinet yesterday.
Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: “Cabinet has noted that works on the Beitbridge-Harare Highway are facilitating the smooth flow of traffic causing congestion at the Mbudzi roundabout.
“Accordingly, Cabinet has approved the immediate construction of the Mbudzi traffic interchange in Harare.”
Work has already started on repairing and upgrading surrounding roads to act as the needed diversions before teams move into the roundabout area.
This means that Harare City Council has to act to remove the illegal structures, some of which have been allowed to clog road reserves for up to six years with council doing little. This suddenly changed with the council threatened to bring in bulldozers at the end of the 48 hours.
The dual operation is centred on the new flyover, but part is to clear a major road reservation in the Hopley area and the other part to clear the road reservation and other council land around the proposed roadworks for the interchange.
Most owners of the illegal houses and tuckshops near Tariro Clinic road reserve had started pulling down structures yesterday on their own following the council notices, but they were complaining that the 48 hours was very short.
City spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the notices were just the final order as people had known they were building illegally and some of the structures have even been rebuilt after being demolished recently.
“We stand guided by the time frame of the construction. 48-hour notices are standard. Some people have always been notified that they were staying illegally. Some of the structures were removed recently and the people came back and rebuilt,” he said.
Mr Chideme also said the council had served 48-hour notices to over 320 people settled on the Mbudzi interchange road reserve.
“The notices encourage the residents to remove their structures without council assistance which normally comes in the form of dozers.
“The road interchange is a national project. Affected residents will be allocated space elsewhere. A committee to address the issue is working on the matter,” he said.
One of the notices issued to Hopley residents by the city town planning and development control section said: “Take notice that you are using and or occupying council land illegally as you do not have either a lease with or the permission of the council.
“Further take notice that within 48 hours from service of this notice upon you, you must do the following, depart from the land, remove all your property from the land and demolish any structure you may have erected on the land and remove all the rubble from the land,” reads the notice.
A mother of two, Mrs Mercy Matibiri, said 48 hours was too short to allow them secure another decent accommodation.
“We were simply advised by council officials that there is a road construction that wants to take place and our properties should be demolished as they are encroaching that land.
“I don’t know what I will do with my kids. We are simply stranded,” she said.
Mr Nelson Gurure also said apart from the short notice the local authority should have secured them an alternative place as they have been staying at the place for the past six years.
“Three months was fair considering that most of the people here, including myself, are struggling to make ends meet. Imagine six years being here and just to be evicted like that,” he said.
Mr Samson Guzha appealed for urgent assistance from the Government.
“We need urgent assistance including tents considering that we are now in the rainy season,” he said.
Mrs Nyifayabo Manda also complained of short notice saying they should have been given ample time to prepare.