A BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) engineer has revealed that houses were being built without inspection, violating council by-laws which stipulate that city authorities should approve every stage of construction of buildings.
BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
Some Bulawayo houses were swamped when flash floods hit parts of the city on February 22 and 23. BCC engineer Howard Sibanda said council should make an effort to inspect houses during construction to avoid similar incidents.
Sibanda revealed this at a meeting conducted by Habakkuk Trust in Tshabalala on Wednesday to find a solution to clogged storm drains in the city.
Residents and the council officials were in attendance.
“Houses inspection was being done long back, but as of now little effort is being made towards this process; therefore, to avoid houses from being constructed in areas that are easily flooded, council should exert more energy in inspection of houses during the course of building,” Sibanda said.
Sibanda urged residents to desist from dumping garbage in storm drains.
“Storm drains are there to serve a purpose of assisting water to move away from houses to avoid flooding. Taking it from the Roads Act, people should not deposit materials in storm drains to avoid blocking free flow of water,” he said.
“As council, we have been pushing people to make weep holes on their (precast walls). As council, we agreed three years back when the road drainage water policy was passed that those who do not wish to comply or those who deny to follow the council’s laws should be slapped with heavy fines. Thus, anyone who is against making weep holes in property boundary walls should pay a levy fine of $6 000,” Sibanda said.
BCC engineer Simela Dube declined to comment when asked why the inspectorate department was neglecting its duty and advised Southern Eye to put the questions in writing and send them to the council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu.
“Why don’t you put the questions in writing and send them to the public relations office so that we can look into it and answer you correctly,” Dube said.
Mpofu was yet to respond to questions by the time of going to print.
However, a council official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the issue of houses which risked flooding was not about failure by the local authority to inspect their construction.
She said most of the affected houses were built long back and the owners erected perimeter walls around them which trap rain water, leading to flooding.
“The issue of flooding was not due to failure by council to inspect the houses at construction time, but most of the affected houses were built long ago and later on owners erected (precast walls) around them leading to flooding during rains,” the source said.
“The inspection of houses during construction is still the core business of the council and is still being done.”
Town clerk Christopher Dube was not reachable for comment.
The building inspectorate department operates under the city’s architecture division whose mandate includes approving plans, making developmental stage inspections in the city; carry out surveillance inspections of any illegal development and activities be it residential, industrial, commercial or institutional nature; examine and certificate, among others.