HomeOpinion & AnalysisCouncil knee-jerk approach deplorable

Council knee-jerk approach deplorable


RECENT moves by Harare City Council to make the capital retain its “Sunshine City” status are commendable, but beg for more answers considering that much of the mess the local authority is trying to clean up now has been piling up since time immemorial.

The vendors issue aside, it boggles the mind why council management and city fathers now appear more determined to rid the city of illegal settlements, for instance. It goes without saying that over the past 10 years or so, illegal settlements have been popping up in almost every corner of the city with the city planners seemingly oblivious of their existence.

Was it an issue of our city planners sleeping on duty or they were part of the scam? One would be tempted to believe corrupt and underhand dealings were at play because most owners of these so-called illegal structures possess what appear like authentic council documents while the structures are connected to the city’s main water and sewer systems.

We believe a major staff overhaul at Town House will help resolve this problem once and for all because as long as the same elements remain in charge, all these clean-up exercises, or call them blitzes, will come to naught.

Chaos....As has become the order of the day in central Harare, motorists dangerously negotiate their way in the congested road as a result of traffic lights failure

Instead of waiting to launch an expensive and potentially litigious demolition exercise, competent and committed city managers should have provided regular checks around the city and stopped all construction projects at illegal sites.

Why wait until residents have completed their structures and then advise them that the projects are illegal? The old adage — a stitch in time saves nine — should have acted as council’s guiding principle. Council’s think-tanks should have foreseen that the increase in urban population and shrinking job market would trigger an influx of vendors. They should have proactively set up more vending sites at strategic points both in the central business district and residential areas in order to reduce pressure on the existing structures.

The same goes for garbage collection, water and sewer reticulation — no sane city fathers would fail to appreciate that as the city’s population grows, pressure continues to mount on the little available infrastructure including demand for accommodation.

The ever-increasing volume of traffic in the central business district also appears to have caught the city fathers
flat-footed, and yet this should have been foreseen and adequately addressed. The ongoing blitz targeting errant kombi drivers and pirate taxi operators could have been avoided had there been some kind of pre-planning.

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