Uproar over Airport Road stands

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ABOUT 200 homeseekers and the Harare City Council (HCC) are facing off over stands allocated under the St Martins Housing Scheme along Airport Road in Harare.

The homeseekers, who belong to the Happiness Housing Pay Scheme, claim that they entered into an agreement with the local authority to purchase the stands in 2019, but up to now have not been given the greenlight to begin developing the stands.

Some of the beneficiaries are set to lose their stands, which are part of the 200-metre buffer zone of the Commando Barracks along Airport Road in Harare despite paying for them.

The local authority allocated the stands to the beneficiaries in the medium density suburb of St Martins on layout plan number TP2F/CR/022, with sizes ranging between 300 and 2 000 square metres.

It was agreed that members of the pay for your house scheme would contribute resources on a pro-rata basis as determined by the project management committee for the completion of infrastructural development of the area.

The members, however, claim that they paid the full servicing fee in 2019, but the council failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that the land was serviced. Yesterday, they gathered at the allocated area, hoping to hold a meeting with the city fathers.

Happiness Housing Pay Scheme spokesperson Farai Nyamupinga said:  “According to the agreement we had with the local authority, we were supposed to have monthly meetings to discuss issues of concern.  What we had was less than 10 meetings in five years since 2019.”

He said over the weekend, they were surprised that the council now planned to bring in a surveyor without their knowledge.

“We raised over $500 000 for the servicing of the area, but it was wiped out by inflation before anything was done. We deserve to know as stakeholders what will happen to our land.”

Harare City Council spokesperson Innocent Ruwende confirmed that some of the beneficiaries were set to lose their stands, but said they would receive alternative allocations.

“Our plans were approved, but the issue of the buffer zone by the soldiers was raised thereafter, so it is beyond our control. So those people who were allocated stands within the 200-metre buffer zone will be reallocated stands elsewhere and this is for security reasons. We also later received an ecological report that showed that some of the allocated stands are in a wetland so those again will be affected because there are no two ways on wetlands conservation. There is no attempt to prejudice stands,” Ruwende said.

Chairperson of the pay scheme, Dave Jenje said: “It appears the local authority is failing to abide by its own laws. It is questionable why the local authority would allocate a stand without giving allowance for the buffer zone of the barracks. Up to now, the environment impact assessment hasn’t yet been conducted. Some of the beneficiaries have already passed on before they have enjoyed their benefits. Council should follow the necessary procedures so that we benefit from what is due to us.”

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