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Pensioner demands compensation


MASVINGO — A 56-year-old pensioner is demanding compensation from the local authority over a planning error that has left him homeless after a water pipe that was underneath his house burst, cracked walls, and shattered windows panes.

Tatenda Chitagu

Council employees have now dug the house’s foundation to fix the broken pipe.

Joseph Deka, of 10729 James Mutero Street in Mucheke F in Masvingo, has been locked in a two-year dispute with the city fathers following the planning error.

He alleges that he bought the stand in 1999 and started building after going through all the inspection procedures, but the city fathers are refusing to compensate him, saying the structure was not inspected.

“I was shocked to get a call from my tenant who said there was water coming from underneath the house, which had risen to window level,” Deka said.

“I then notified the council and they told me there was a water pipe underneath the house that had burst.
“They had to dig into my foundation to fix it and in the process part of my house was destroyed and cracked.”

He said he wanted the local authority to construct a new house for him or repair his old one, as he was now a pensioner and could therefore not afford to build another house.

Deka said the local authority said it was his problem since the structure was not inspected.

“My argument is that from the time the stand was allocated to me, the city council had total responsibility to ensure that whatever plan was submitted, it would be approved on condition that such plan does not violate any council by-laws nor any existing structures in the locality,” he says in a letter written to the city fathers by his lawyer, Philip Tanaka Shumba of Mtendi and Shumba law firm.

“On September 5, 2002, my plan was approved by the council, meaning they were satisfied with my building plan.

“The town engineering department never mentioned that if the builder erected the structure as proposed in the plan, it would end up being built on the water pipe.

“What it means is that the council can leave structures to be erected without being inspected. This amounts to professional negligence,” he said.

However, outgoing Masvingo mayor, Alderman Femius  Chakabuda, professed ignorance on the matter, referring all questions to the city engineer, Tawanda Gozo.

Gozo could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

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