Thursday, January 20, 2022

Zimbabwe Floods Leave Budiriro Residents Stranded

20 JANUARY 2022

The Herald (Harare)

By Rumbidzayi Zinyuke

Homeowners living on wetlands around Harare were this week left counting their losses after their homes were flooded following incessant rains received this week, with some calling on the Government to help service the land they are occupying to avoid further losses.

The residents in Budiriro, Southlea Park, Hopley and parts of Chitungwiza were affected and some claim that they are victims of land barons who sold them stands on undesignated land with no drainage systems. This resulted in them being affected every year during the rainy season.

The rainy season started late, but since the beginning of the year there has been persistent rain in many areas.

The Herald visited some of the affected areas where residents, some of whom were settled illegally, said they were hoping that the Government and council would come in to help them.

Mrs Eunice Gotora said:"We have stayed here for about 10 years and when it rains, some of these houses become flooded and we cannot even leave the children to play outside. Some people's houses have been flooded and others have reported that water is seeping from underground through the floors into the house. We even have neighbours who have abandoned their homes because the problem has become too much for them to bear."

She acknowledged that their homes were built in the waterway hence the flooding challenges but appealed to Council to help regularise their stands.

"The cooperatives are not helping us at all; they have just left us to fend for ourselves. We are hoping that things will change and we will get regularised. Maybe if the council takes over we can then start seeing some development," she added.

Mr Muneri Kashaya said he had been staying in his home for the past two years and blamed the cooperative that had sold them the stand for the predicament they were in.

"Since I started staying here, we have been having this same problem. We bought our stand through a third party who then paid our money to the cooperative, but since then, I haven't met any representative from the cooperative. We still have hope that they will fix this but because we have nowhere else to go, we just have to be patient," he said.

Another resident who only referred to herself as Mai Sean said the flooding was a big challenge.

"Our stands do not have drainage systems, so the water does not flow and when we get heavy rains like we have been doing, flooding occurs. We have to wear gumboots just to get out of the house or go to the shops. We have been told they cannot start servicing our roads until the stands are regularised with the council. The person we gave our money to disappeared and is said to be in South Africa," she said.

She said they had engaged the Environment Management Agency (EMA) to get the rectify the issue, but were told that some of them would have to be relocated to other areas.

"We chose our own representative and she said the meetings with council and Government had not yet yielded any results so until we get a solution, we remain stuck here."

Mrs Tadiwanashe Maphosa pleaded for the Government to urgently come in to resolve the situation.

"This is a very big problem. Our houses are starting to show cracks maybe because of the water. We need help," she said.

Harare City Council acting communications manager Mr Innocent Ruwende said council had engaged the Government to relocate some of the homeowners who had been allocated stands in wetlands and waterways.

However, those who had settled illegally would need to go through the proper channels to get new stands.

"People were settled in those areas without the necessary procedures being followed, they were not given a certificate of occupation which comes after the land has been serviced to ensure they have all the amenities. Council recently passed a resolution that illegally settled residents should pay for them to start receiving council services. For those in the high density suburbs, the fee is US$2 000 so if they pay this, we will move in and start working," he said.

"In Budiriro, that area is a wetland so we have approached the Government to find them alternative land and we will move them. But those settled illegally cannot get compensation."

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