BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is taking legal action against owners of dilapidated and unsightly buildings in the city centre, Southern Eye has learnt.
BCC director of Housing and Community Services Dictor Khumalo is quoted in the latest council minutes saying the local authority was issuing notices on owners of the dilapidated buildings.
“16 buildings had been issued with first notices to attend to certain components of their buildings. Of the 32 properties revisited this month (July). Eight properties were still in defiance and action was being taken on these while 24 were at various levels of compliance to our instructions,” the minutes read in part..
“Three of the properties still in defiance were potentially dangerous hence the request to launch litigation.”
According to the minutes, a number of buildings in the Central Business District were now an eyesore.
“The buildings needed to be painted. Council building by-laws should be enforced and building owners encouraged renovating their buildings. In response Alderman Siboniso Khumalo explained that efforts were being made to encourage most building owners to revamp their buildings.
“It was noted that the department had been on an accelerated drive to ensure all properties within the city were safe, sound and aesthetically acceptable to their users and the public in general. Notices highlighting building defects had been sent to defective property owners after which penalties were charged on defiant cases.
“The department therefore hereby sought authority to proceed to the courts to seek court orders in terms of the Housing Standards Control Act Chapter 29:08, Part III, Section 16. It was our hope this would force defiant property owners to take appropriate action and avert the impending dangers.”
In August2021, the BCC condemned a total of 51 buildings in the city centre as dangerously dilapidated and posing a danger to inhabitants and passers-by while plans to renovate or demolish them were being pursued.
In May last year the local authority revealed that 14 buildings in the city centre had been condemned as unfit, with owners given a time-line to rectify their anomalies but without success.
The number of condemned buildings had since shot up to almost 100, according to inspections conducted by the BCC’s engineering services committee in terms of the model building by-laws.
In 2017, three people escaped death by a whisker when a building housing a Simbisa Brands restaurant, Nandos, situated along Jason Moyo Street collapsed on them.
In 2020, council’s fire exposed some government buildings such as Mhlahlandlela Government Complex, Zimpost, the Registrar-General’s office and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority as prone to fire.